"Quake" is a fun trek through a young woman's repeated misadventures with men across America as she looks for the Big Love.
By JESSE SLOANE
"Quake" follows a young woman named Lucy, who travels across America looking for "the Big Love." This means that she jumps from one guy to another in search of the perfect soulmate. This keeps the play exciting almost every scene brings a new man who, as the scene goes on, starts to display a flaw that marks him as a poor choice for our heroine. Once you learn the rules of the game, the play becomes a little like a marathon of "Twilight Zone" episodes, with the audience trying to guess how far each episode will get before everything goes horribly wrong.
For a woman, this play will give the satisfaction of seeing stereotypical bad boyfriends satirized on stage. We get what you might call The Cheater, The Beater, The Nice Bore, The Fitness Fanatic, and a few along the same lines. The funniest was The Lazy Boy, who announces, "I'm letting myself go," as he suddenly grows a beer gut and loses his hair.
|Written by: Melanie Marnich.|
Directed by: Amy Feinberg.
Cast: Jacqueline Bowman, Irene McDonnell, Jonathon Gentry, Robert Bowen Jr., John Kevin Kennedy, Matt Seidman.
|Sol Goldman Theater (YM-YWHA)|
344 East 14th Street
Feb. 13 - March 10, 2002
These are not really human characters, of course, but cartoons. Making The Nice Bore also a cheater or giving The Fitness Fanatic any interests beyond exercise would make them too difficult for the cartoonist to draw, or too difficult for this playwright to write. Only The Beater is cartoonish in an unfunny way, as abuse generally is. He's depicted as the blue-collar brute that cultured urbanites love to fear; think of Robert DeNiro in Cape Fear, though in this role Matt Seidman doesn't seem to have the confidence to do more than hint halfheartedly at a Southern accent.
What's a woman to do with men like these? From early in the play we hear of a woman who kills the men who disappoint her. Evidently Osama hath no fury like a woman scorned, as this habit has taken her to the top of the FBI's Most Wanted list. "That Woman" is playing out Lucy's fantasies and Lucy becomes obsessed with her, making sure to say so in case we can't figure it out from the way Lucy chases and dreams about her. (The playwright calls this "utilization of language to replace or enhance action," which must mean "assuming the audience can't figure out what's going on unless they're told.")
This wild woman is meant to be just as cartoonish and just as funny as the men. She's even supposed to be a former astrophysicist, which gives her an excuse for shouting middle-school physics formulas while she prances and poses around the stage. Jacqueline Bowman doesn't yell or wave her arms quite as crazily as the role demands, but she's always entertaining and becomes very believable in her character's calmer moments.
In the end, this play is more than the sum of its parts. Out of short scenes and cartoon characters it manages to give us a serious look at the problems of human connection, of what love is and how to make it stay. Entertaining at the time and thought-provoking at the end, this is a play worth watching.
|MARCH 4, 2002|
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