note: entire contents copyright 2012 by Sheila Barth
After years of attending Apollinaire Theatre Company productions, my anticipation for seeing Crystal Skillman’s 80-minute, one-act play,“Cut,” a fictional behind-the-scenes look at a reality TV show, was high. I’ve never been disappointed - until now.
“Cut” is running in full repertory with Rachel Axler’s fascinating, hard-hitting play, “Smudge”. I’ve seen “Smudge,” the story of a couple whose baby is born limbless, and with only one eye, performed elsewhere, so I know it’s a fantastic, well-written play. I expected to walk away with the same enthusiasm for “Cut”. Unfortunately, Skillman’s play, which debuted in 2011, has holes and falls short.
Apollinaire Director A. Vincent Ularich, cast and crew make a noble attempt at sparking life and intensity into “Cut,” but its structure and substance are mediocre.
A chalkboard on the upper left side of the stage announces the name of each scene, such as “Smash,Smash,” “the Secret,” “The Push,” “The Gift,” and “The Last Goodbye,” leading into action that bounces among three interrelated people from the present, to recent flashbacks. The interplay is all dependent on Artistic Director Danielle Fauteux Jacques‘ triptych set design and careful lighting. Sound designer Emily Ledger pipes in recorded voices and more for dramatic effect.
Basically, the story revolves around Danno, (Stewart Evan Smith) writer-editor of TV reality show, “The Wives of Malibu,” Rene and Colette, two women he hired to create an episode and save the series.
Smith is too hyper as Danno, who’s distraught because he can’t reach his sister by phone. He’s dependent on new hire Rene, (Elizabeth Anne Rimar) who has a strong business ethic but marital problems stemming from her philandering actor husband. She also has a small daughter, Celia.
Further complicating behind-the-scenes action is other new hire, Colette, (Alyce Householter), who came to New York City to open a dance studio, but ended up working in a bookstore, where she met Danno. She’s psyched when he offers her a job, working on her favorite TV show, but when Colette realizes she’s pregnant, she faces her own reality crisis - whether to abort the baby by taking pills.
Danno’s frustration intensifies when he can’t reach his sister, and his father has no information about her. He hits a breaking point when the show must pass the scrutiny of its producers, after it failed once. Their jobs are in jeopardy.
Danno’s crisis and his reactions seem hyperbolic, and the constant shifting and simultaneous focusing on the three characters’ individual problems, becomes tiresome.
In one dramatic scene, Danno exclaims he loves Rene and will do anything for her, but when he’s told he must cut somebody from the show, he shouts Rene’s name, surprising everyone, especially himself.
These three characters lack depth and aren’t likable, so they fail to draw our sympathy.
There’s still time to see “Cut” and “Smudge” this weekend.
Do yourself a favor. See “Smudge”.
BOX INFO: One-act, 80-minute play by Crystal Skillman, appearing in full repertory with Rachel Axler’s hard-hitting play, “Smudge,” at Apollinaire Theatre Company, through April 21, at Chelsea Theatre Works, 189 Winnisimmet St., Chelsea. Post-show receptions in the gallery follow every show. “Smudge” ends Saturday, April 21, at 8 p.m.; “Cut,” April 20, at 8 p.m. April 21 at 5 p.m. Tickets are pay-what-you-can to all performances. Call 617-887-2336 or visit www.apollinairetheatre.com.