By: JK Clarke
There is a thing that comes from having everything, and that thing is ennui. And in full possession of said ennui are Sara and Mitchell, a couple in their early 30s who own a successful internet company and consequently have so much money that they just put additions on a home which they merely rent. And they are bored. So bored and depressed that Sara thinks about changing her hairstyle to mix things up but settles for firing the (very efficient) maid for no reason whatsoever. So, not only is Sara melancholic, but she is despicable.
The fabric of the blasé couple’s very lives is shredded when a ring of the doorbell reveals an attorney and a social worker with an 11-year-old girl in tow. Elise (Rachel Resheff) is the product of an egg Sara donated some 10 – 15 years prior (in exchange for $6,000, because she “wanted to take acting classes and eat food that wasn’t cereal”) and Sara is now the girl’s only living relative; and, since she signed paragraph 38Q, Sara is contractually obliged to take custody.
Sara (played delightfully deadpan by Katya Campbell) and Mitchell (Geoffrey Arend) are clearly unequipped to handle the child and fret about having to wait out the holiday weekend for their attorneys to be available. Matters are complicated by Alice and Tim, a visiting newlywed couple, with whom they are only vaguely acquainted (all of Sara and Mitchell’s relationships are passive and hazy), whom they absently invited to come and visit for a few days. Alice (an over-the-top Kate Cullen Roberts) is a pink, perky, preppy who’s so eager to have babies that she poses in front of a mirror with pillows stuffed under her dress. Hubby Tim (Adam Harrington) is equally energetic, but considerably conflicted, especially when it comes to helping Alice conceive. After a couple of days dealing with all these unwanted intruders, a potential solution is devised. But, of course, Elise’s presence has brought purpose into the soulless household, complicating matters.
Everything Is Ours’ message is undoubtedly thought provoking and meaningful. Nikole Beckwith’s writing is clever and her primary characters are well developed and multi-dimensional. Unfortunately, this production plays everything overly hammy and slapsticky. The preppy couple are so irritating and high strung that any potential dimension they might have as characters is washed away by their chipper and irritating energy. And the secondary characters — the interns and maids — are far too frenetic, awkwardly skittering through their scenes like keystone cops, which is unfortunate, because their lines are humorous enough that if they’d played them straight they would’ve worked fine.
The play’s standout is Rachel Resheff as Elise. The young teen plays the young orphan exactly as you’d expect a lost 11 year old to behave: bored, flippant and with a slight, ambiguous trace of fear behind her eyes. More importantly, she doesn’t overact her scenes, which would have been easy to do in this environment.
In the end, the manic energy of the play ends up being off-putting, taking away from what might be a delightfully maudlin and absurdist piece and making it screechy and less entertaining on the whole. Qualified, experienced actors and good writing should have been trusted and allowed to speak for themselves.
Everything Is Ours. Directed by Adrienne Campbell-Holt. Through September 21 at HERE Arts Center, 145 Sixth Avenue. www.HERE.org
*Photos by Dave Thomas Brown