Three's a Crowd

...Double Vision is a work that is certainly hard to characterize. Part slapstick comedy, part naughty romance, part heavy drama, Barbara Blumenthal-Ehrlich's play is a funny, and ultimately hard-hitting, show about the ways men go about sabotaging their most important relationships. Presented at the New York International Fringe Festival and directed by Ari Laura Kreith, Vision focuses on three roommates with women problems. The biggest problem is Dave's (Shane Jacobsen): he keeps pushing away the women in his life. Mark (Quinn Mattfeld), meanwhile, gets involved only with married women to whom he never needs to fully commit. They could both learn a lesson from their other roommate, the oversexed, 50-something Ben (Chris McCann).

No single member of this mini-fraternity emerges as the play's protagonist; they get equal time making questionable choices. Dave, for example, refuses to ask his girlfriend, Mary (Rebecca Henderson), to turn down a job offer and stay in New York. Ben, who at first seems smitten with his significantly younger girlfriend, suddenly falls for—and woos—the nurse who lives nearby. But when Mark eventually decides to steal Mary, the audience should question his motivation. How could he be so cruel to his roommate? And, more important, why?

Blumenthal-Ehrlich provides a solid premise but never quite gets around to answering these questions. Nonetheless, Kreith has directed some solid performances. Henderson, McCann, and Mattfeld are all quite credible in their roles, but Vision is really Jacobsen's show to rule, and he does so in a committed, manic performance that, coming so soon after his comic turn in I'm in Love With Your Wife, demonstrates a great deal of range. He shows that Dave has a lot more brimming underneath the surface than one might expect. I just wish Blumenthal-Ehrlich had spent more time explaining what lit the fire in the first place.

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