While my overall experience with “………..Awkward Pauses” was an enjoyable one, I found it to be a one hill roller coaster. Let’s back up.
“…Awkward Pauses” is broken into 3 one acts.
ACT I TENMINUTES TO GO
We begin with a look at a futuristic Dr. Kevorkian inspired roller coaster (purely coincidental to my analogy) where riders, aside from the terminally ill and those on death row, can choose to terminate their lives early. While it did touch on God and the great beyond, it was careful not to preach too much and lets the audience enjoy the debate between Theresa and Grant, smartly played by Mindy Warick and Jerry Chappell. They are expertly crafted to be the Ying to other’s Yang. Between spurts of banter, the awkward pauses (aptly titled) become more so the closer we get to the start of the ride. As the clock ticks down, the reasons for both riders come into focus but a little levity is lost however as they seem cliche and generic. Kudos to the actors for making generalities entertaining but ‘why’ is more important than ‘how’. After what is obviously longer than 10 minutes, the ride takes off with characters that never truly change after meeting each other. Grant psychoanalyzes Theresa saying she wants to die but is afraid to do it herself. Sure, she spouts religious babble about God’s plan for them and maybe they’re wrong to kill themselves but Grant never buys in and Theresa never makes an attempt to exit the ride. All in all, I enjoyed it but this was only the start of my trip. Up the hill I go!
ACT II DUCKS IN WINTER
The scene opens with, what else, an awkward pause. Again, Susan Marlowe and Tony Christopher are a perfect match. Susan’s almost dead pan delivery against Tony’s drunk exuberance made a perfect seesaw of comedy complete with an awkward squeak in between. The two play a stale married couple who’s existence has become centered around a predictable schedule. We find them discussing their marital issues while frigidly waiting outside allowing their son to flirt in the warmth of their house with the baby sister. Upon discovering their slump, they attempt to have sex on a park bench to ignite some much needed excitement. Nothing like the blistering cold, bulky clothing, unpleasant positions and a long indeterminate dry spell to get your engine revving. And perhaps it revs too hot because Lawrence blows it just as they’re getting started. Simple blocking, simple idea but very specific and very well played. I loved this one. At the top of the hill, over the cress and down we go! WHEEEEE this is fun!
And this is where the ride comes to a coast and an eventual stop. This story centers on a Howdy Dowdy couple living in todays world with a “Stepford” Wife Sarah (played by Sara Davenport) and Mark (played by Randy Marquis), a man figuratively trapped in a glass jar. He sees the world he wants but is regulated to good ole fashioned American meals and good Christian programming and literature by his wife. The American way of life, your best buddy Jesus Christ and the proper nuclear family were themes on a rotisserie. So was the dead horse. Maybe it was because I had already enough heard about God in ACT I but Mark’s rants about religion and his direction in life seemed without direction as he paced back and forth. Each time his wife quelled the outburst, a new issue surfaced. This happened several times. Finally, JESUS! No, literally, Jesus (Jerry Chappell steals the scene) arrives for dinner to break up the monotony. We don’t really get our Awkward Pause until Mark is left along with our visitor who eyeballs him without blinking. Aside from an out of place seduction scene, the wife takes off her dress but quickly puts it back on because Jesus is arriving soon as in 10 seconds from now, the only real action in the ACT comes from the husbands abrupt murder at the hands of his wife. Yes, she murders him in front of Jesus who doesn’t blink an eye. “I didn’t say anything” he says and we fade to black. Jesus, I couldn’t have said it better.
Sandwiching sex in between God may work for Catholic priests but its much more appetizing for an audience when its more the other way around. I liked it but it could have finished stronger.