Is there anything more romantic than a tale of two writers falling in love in Paris? Probably not, but an opening with an argument over who or what was the greatest rock performance of all time is a bit more intriguing.
For their first performance, Play.Sing.Give. presented Fiction, a story of two successful writers who are thrown into an unsuspecting tragedy and decide to share their personal diaries. Written by Steven Dietz and directed by Zoe S. Watkins, the two have created a witty, yet intense play about what happens when a couple decides to share too much.
Journals and diaries are reminders of thoughts that are ironically never revisited, with the idea that another will never read them. That thought alone is gut wrenching, but the result is that, “No life, it turns out, is an open book.” From the outset, Michael (Levi Morger) and Linda (Stacy Lynn Gould) bicker like an old married couple and remind the audience that there's no greater bond than a shared hatred. Linda is a very matter-of-fact, best-selling author turned professor that has been diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. Michael is a caring husband living in the shadow of his wife’s success; that quotes Dante, only drinks beer from brown bottles, arranges his diaries in chronological order, and doesn’t like the idea of a door being ajar.
They have an unusually honest relationship, but after sharing each other’s coveted secrets, Michael and Linda’s bond is put to the test when they are forced to decipher between fact and fiction, past and present, and shared truths and lies. Add a third character to the equation, Abby (Alison Wien), and three becomes a crowd. Linda’s piercing facial expressions and Michael’s often discomfort leave the viewer confused on which character they feel the most sympathy for — the dying wife, or the could-be-lying husband?
Dietz has written an extremely smart play, full of soliloquies — a performed novel, right down to an included plot twist. Wordy, but with hilarity that is so unexpected, it goes unnoticed. An intimate cast of three, Wien drops in with perfect timing, while Morger and Gould’s on-stage chemistry is so strong, the need for additional characters to complete their story isn’t necessary. The close proximity between actors and audience almost begs for audience involvement, with audible gasps and the occasional, “No way!”
It also helps that Fiction is a part of a “giving event.” In an effort to provide a creative platform for actors to showcase their talents and give back to the community, Play.Sing.Give offers one full-length play plus 12 cabaret performances for a two-week run in November. Their goal was to make self-sufficient performances, with all ticket sales going into the productions, and any additional profits given to charity.
With some amazing acting, the opportunity to give, and the sponsorship from the Dutch Kills Theater Company, the hope of a return of this production is very high. That's all truth, no lie.
Fiction ran until Nov. 22 at The Producers’ Club (358 W 44th St).