Three characters dredge up a hopeless romance in a contemporary love story
By Joel Benjamin
Reprise, at the Paradise Factory Theater in the East Village, is a three-character study about obsessive, but unrequited love. Written and directed by Eric Maierson, Reprise involves a smitten Michael (Ken Forman), his untrustworthy Russian pal, Leonard (Sean Patrick Folster) and the object of Michael’s affection, Erin (Tara Westwood).
Set in the present, the first act sets up the emotional conflict as Michael pours his heart out to the crass, misogynist, Leonard who thinks of women as sexual playthings. Leonard cannot believe that Michael never had a sexual tryst with his beloved dream lover, Erin. In fact, their last meeting over twenty years ago, left sad memories.
Whether it is the writing, the direction or the acting, the first act was awkward, as if the two characters came from different plays: Michael from “Friends” and Leonard from “Two and a Half Men.” This discomfiture continued into the second act when Leonard bursts in, unwelcomed and vulgar, interrupting whatever rapport Michael has achieved with Erin.
Michael has known Erin from their schooldays and was frustrated by their inability to get together. He has invited her to his apartment and she arrives, a vision of loveliness, in the second act. They each voice their point of view of the relationship, not able to agree on pretty much any version. Michael tries in every way to impress her. She enjoys being flattered and Michael is happy to comply.
Erin thinks Michael should be more successful and he counters that he hates her husband to which she counteracts with descriptions of her conjugal bedroom activities. She implies that Michael’s tales of his sex life are total fiction. She further taunts Michael by trying on a dress revealing that she is wearing a thong.
As things get complicated, involving unwanted sexual advances, Leonard returns, making things even more complicated as he woos Erin with gross behavior, while also putting down Michael. These confrontations lead to soul bearing confessions that don’t help the situation which ends on a negative note.
Josh Iacovelli’s realistic apartment set, not posh, but comfortable, grounded the play in reality as did Dustin Cross’ contemporary, casual costumes. Daisy Long’s lighting was subtle in its delineation of the different times of day and the changing moods.
Reprise doesn’t cover any new territory, but Ken Forman’s earnest performance and Tara Westwood’s complex tease make it involving. Sean Patrick Folster’s Leonard, although a vivid, sexy presence, upsets the story more than helps it along.
Photos: Leandra Badalotti
Reprise (May 18 – June 11, 2017)
Paradise Factory Theater
64 East 4th Street, between 2nd Avenue and the Bowery
New York, NY
For tickets, call 212-352-3101 or visit www.repriseplay.com
Running time: 75 minutes with no intermission