The Well Done Play

The stage looks nice. The actors are skilled. The director has done her job well. The script itself is well crafted. Everything is well done. So why do the spectators walk out of The Sunshine Play mildly entertained but unsatisfied, an hour and a half of their lives that will slip out of their consciousness within minutes? There are two answers to this question - form and content. The form is traditional realism, adhering to Aristotle’s unities, scene building upon the previous scene, with entrances and exits at the predictable moments that enhance the comedy or drama, according to its needs. Realism has been the prevalent mainstream theatrical form for the past six decades or more. At least as far as this critic is concerned, it is in dire need of an update. As for the content of this play, it’s difficult to answer the critical questions every artist must ask himself before plunging into his art, ‘what am I doing this for?’ ‘How is this play going to help the people who come see it?’ As I’ve heard theatrical legend Judith Malina say many a time ‘If you have nothing to SAY don’t do theater.’

This new play from Romania by Peca Stefan, directed by Ana Margineau, tells the rooftop story of two young Romanians, one Bulgarian, and the woes of their entangled relationships. The attractive red set by Ina Isbasescu provides the stomping ground for the quirky romantic triangle that will unfold over the course of the night. Cosmin Selesi is funny as the Eastern European alpha male, Isabela Neamtu acts nimbly as a Romanian Carrie Bradshaw, and Daniel Popa adeptly portrays the complexities of a sensitive marijuana addict making the transition from husband to divorcee. It adds up to a respectable but forgettable evening. And one can not help but wonder what a play like this, which would fit well into the repertoire of most conventional theaters, and refrains from exploring new types of theatricality, is doing in a festival of plays on the fringes of the theatrical order.

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