All Talk No Action

Len and Ernest chronicles the inability of two men to solve a conflict. The play begins in a dilapidated Brooklyn bar where Len and Ernest are waiting for a phone call. They sit on opposite sides of the room, consumed by their own thoughts, and speak candidly with one another about their insecurities. When the phone rings both men seem non-plussed, yet it is clear that this call is meant to change the course of events. They seem to know who is on the other line but the audience does not, nor does it ever learn. The call essentially serves as a catalyst for the men to argue over who should leave. But rather than leave right away, they question who should go, when they should go, how they should get to wherever they are going, and so on - perhaps a small nod to Mr. Beckett’s Godot. These seemingly mundane and often ambiguous conversations build to physical altercations, verbal spats and deadly silences but the relationship between the two men never escalates or develops. The conflict is drawn out in such a way that for 50 minutes no one actually does anything or goes anywhere. Finally, at the end, one man leaves. The actors who play Len and Ernest, Francesco Saviano and Mauricio Bustamante, are like two lost electrons that bounce around the wide empty set in slow motion. Their intentions are earnest but the dialogue doesn’t allow them to make any choices.

Characters need to make choices in any story, whether it takes the form of a play, a television show or a fairy tale. A character's decision to act pushes the plot forward. When there are no choices, there is no action, and if there is no action, there is no plot, and if there is no plot, the only result can be a very boring play.

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