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  •  REVIEW: [SIC]


    "[sic]" in the head

    Less about plot than about mindplay and character quirks, "[sic]" is an inventive play about three twentysomethings stuck in studio-apartment purgatory.


    "[sic]," Melissa James Gibson's new play, shows the lives of three people who, in spite of their intelligence and education, seem to be stuck in that limbo between college and real life.

    Written by: Melissa James Gibson.
    Directed by: Daniel Aukin.
    Cast: Richard Crawford, Christina Kirk, Jennifer Morris, James Urbaniak, Trevor A. Williams.
    Vineyard Theatre
    108 East 15th St.
    Previews start: Dec. 19, 2001
    Jan. 8 - Feb. 3, 2002

    Theo (Richard Crawford), Babette (Christina Kirk) and Frank (James Urbaniak) live in door-to-door, crowded studio apartments. They are, respectively, a bitter musician hired to compose the tune for a ride in an amusement park; a writer whose book project is the theory that history can be told as a result of consequential tantrums; and an aspiring auctioneer who practices tongue twisters along with a training tape of country auctioneers to cultivate a rapid-fire, sing-song style.

    They have more in common than their hate for their landlord: "Larry," an off-stage character, is equally important — he was apparently involved at some point or another with both Babette and Frank, and is currently seeing Theo's ex-wife. There's also Mrs. Jorgensen, indicated by a fluorescent light above the audience, whom they discuss, spying her from their rear windows and obsessing about her apparent death. Their banter is interposed with extremely minimalist scenes of a man and a woman (Trevor A. Williams and Jennifer Morris) breaking up in the apartment below.

    Set designer Louisa Thompson brilliantly divides the stage into two levels: on the upper level, three movable booths represent Theo, Frank and Babette's jam-packed studio apartments; in the lower level, the Man and the Woman share a spacious three-room apartment. There are moments, such as when they are dividing their possessions, that the man and the woman go so far into the bedroom or the kitchen that their heads are cut off, concealed by the upper-level floor that doubles as their ceiling. The effect is both captivating and eerie.

    The contrast between the characters in these two levels is not only in the physical space they inhabit; while Theo, Frank and Babette's neurotic rants, wittily deprecating each other or themselves, often speaking in unison, are reminiscent of wordplay by Gertrude Stein, the couple in the lower level seem to be trapped in a fussy world where not much needs to be said, and where answers are not really expected. What they have in common, however, is their inability to fully communicate, to relate more intimately with each other.

    Lacking an actual plot, "[sic]" covers a lot of terrain: solitude, stability, success in a big city, relationships. Director Daniel Aukin and playwright Melissa James Gibson form a great team to show the intricacy of human relations, and the talented cast doesn't lag behind, delivering their tongue-twisting lines with amazing wit and the honesty they deserve.

    Full of hilarious moments, as when Larry invites Babette and Frank to a party and explicitly not Theo, who becomes filled with envy by their absurd raves that it was the best party ever, "[sic]'s" sometimes bizarre situations and fast-paced word games might disappoint someone looking for a more linear play, but if you enjoy reading between the lines, this smart, bittersweet comedy will be worth your while.

    JANUARY 27, 2002

    Reader comments on [sic]:

  • Great Play   from Cori, Mar 3, 2006

  • Post a comment on "[sic]"