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  •  REVIEW: SEEING EACH OTHER

    Seeing Each Other

    Save the date

    The two women in "Seeing Each Other" get several chances to redo their disastrous blind date in a fun exploration of how personalities clash and, however improbably, come together.

    By KRISTINA FELICIANO
    Offoffoff.com

    If you want to go on a fun blind date — as opposed to the usual, torturous kind — get yourself over to the amusing and often spot-on "Seeing Each Other: A (re)Visionary Blind Date." In the cool dark of the tiny Collective Unconscious performing space, you can sit comfortably, alone even, and watch as two other people small-talk their way through a first meeting in a restaurant. Let them worry about whether they're drinking too much or too little. About whether or not their job is sufficiently impressive, their ideas too progressive, too trite, too naive.

      
    SEEING EACH OTHER
    Full title: Seeing Each Other: A (re)Visionary Blind Date.
    Written and performed by: Sandra Alland and Heather Lash.
     SCHEDULE
    Collective: Unconscious (closed)
    145 Ludlow St.
    Fringe Festival 2002, Aug. 9-25, 2002

     RELATED ARTICLES
    Fringe Festival 2002

    • Show listings

    Theater
    • All American Boy
    • Beat
    • Confessions of an Art School Model
    • Deviant
    • The Joys of Sex
    • Living London
    • Naked Girls Drinking
    • Out to Lunch
    • Portrait of a President
    • Refugees
    • Resa Fantastiskt Mystisk
    • Room to Swing an Axe
    • Sajjil
    • Star
    • Seeing Each Other
    • Up Your Rabbit Hole
    • The Welcoming Committee

    Dance
    • ASPIC
    • Stalking Christopher Walken
    • Wet Blue and Friends

    Other Fringe Festivals
    • Fringe 2000
    • Fringe 2001
    And when at first they don't succeed, you can watch as the scene is "rewound" and they try again and yet one more time. Because these women (a word to the narrow of mind: If you dislike the idea of two ladies fancying each other, you might just want to stick with your Eminem collection and forgo this show) benefit from the second (and third) chances that occur too infrequently in real life but that make entertainment such a welcome and necessary escape. And, yes, there is a happy ending. Guess writers and co-stars Sandra Alland and Heather Lash figure most people have enough drama in their love lives without having to see it on stage.

    The minimalist set features a table, a couple of chairs, a few glasses filled alternately with red wine, water, and Scotch, a microphone, and, in the beginning, Bruna, a crewcut-wearing, nose-stud-sporting, leather-jacket-donning romantic hopeful anxiously awaiting the arrival of Timmie, her blind date. Playing in the eatery is possibly the best soundtrack for her or anyone's love's labors: the Smiths, New Order, Culture Club. In fact, the best-of-the-'80s music in this show alone is enough to recommend it.

    Bruna can be a bit abrasive, probably a product of her defensiveness, to borrow a bit of the lesbian psychology that colors the women's exchanges. (More on that later.) When Timmie flutters in, 10 minutes late, tall, winsome in a Drew Barrymore-meets-Karen O way, affectless, and craving chamomile tea and mixed greens, Bruna reaches for her cigarettes, her house red, the drugs she keeps in her biker jacket, and her sarcasm. Needless to say, they won't be deciding on where to have brunch the next day.


      
    So much analysis, so much talking, the parsing of every word. It's a wonder Timmie and Bruna, and women like them, could ever agree on a place to meet, let alone embark on a relationship.  

      
    Not that they both don't imagine what it might be like if they did get together. Conceived with a moviemaker's storytelling sensibility, "Seeing Each Other" features cleverly employed filmic "fantasies" that allow the characters to go places in their mind that they won't be visiting in actuality. The fantasies come in the form of short films that play on a large screen above the stage; absurd and a combination of the characters' worst fears and most ardent wishes, they're like the imaginary sequences in "Ally McBeal" when that show was still funny. In the first movie, they go dancing in a club, and the butch Bruna tries mightily to seduce Timmie with her gyrations and her Disco Sucks T-shirt.

    But in the end, Bruna and Timmie are too different to even have a peaceful meal together, and Timmie storms out, offended by what she sees as Bruna's callousness. Enter the waiter — the show's narrator in the way that Rod Serling was for "The Twilight Zone." He metaphorically rewinds the action so that Bruna and Timmie get to start all over again.

    It's not exactly a do-over, though. Both women are a little changed the second time around. Bruna's less irascible and even has a different job: She's a filmmaker rather than a trapeze artist. And Timmie's darker and less hippy-dippy earnest, even hinting at a troubled childhood. The point, it seems, is not to suggest that any two people can make it if they try hard enough but to show how well or poorly different people mix. The fantasy this time: The two go home together and have S&M-flavored sex, as suggested by the whip Bruna brandishes when they fall into bed at the end of the movie. Things go better on this date, but they're still not there yet.

    The third, charming time, Bruna's a teacher of English as a second language, Timmie's a video-store clerk, and both are open to each other, engaged by each other, and finally smitten. There are pensive pauses during which we, and they, watch their unconscious unspool. Bruna, in a silent-movie-style short, tells a fed-up Timmie that she's never loved anyone the way she has her and begs her not to leave, strumming a song on her acoustic guitar to try to win her over. But Timmie tells her a song is not enough for her. She doesn't want words of love; she wants acts of love. In another film, the women are going to be hanged because they are gay. It's all as if to say there's no love connection out there that isn't infused with fear.

    But Bruna and Timmie do manage to get it, and each other, together. By now, audience members of a certain age will have relived some of their own youthful highlights, thanks to the smashing songs that amplify key moments. And everyone would have enjoyed the real chemistry the actresses have, despite their characters' missteps. "See Each Other" could be tighter — maybe a little less about the death penalty, a subject Timmie and Bruna discuss at length, never mind that it's not exactly great date fodder — and the actress who plays Timmie (there were no programs for the show, so it's not clear if she's Alland or Lash) doesn't have quite the same naturalness as her co-star.

    But Lash and Alland do give us a window on the contentiousness of meeting with someone to see if they might want to lock lips and perhaps link lives. And, like the funny "Kissing Jessica Stein," they capture the sometimes-impeding psychology of female relationships. So much analysis, so much talking, the parsing of every word. It's a wonder Timmie and Bruna, and women like them, could ever agree on a place to meet, let alone embark on a relationship. Of course, when it does work out, as it does here, the joy is so great that only the jangling guitars of Morrissey's most soaring songs can express it. Just don't listen too closely to the lyrics.

    AUGUST 21, 2002
    OFFOFFOFF.COM • THE GUIDE TO ALTERNATIVE NEW YORK



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