note: entire contents copyright 2002 by Will Stackman
Nicky Silver's "The Maiden's Prayer" in the 210 rehearsal hall is more complete and generally better-acted than Baitz's "10 Unknowns" on display on Huntington's mainstage through the end of this week. That said, this bit of Cowardite playwriting for the '90s is still pretty slim, relying on eccentric stereotypes acted by a strong ensemble. Matt Setlock returns to Boston as Paul, the gay narrator - of sorts. Bill Mootos works out his leading man chops as Taylor, the object of general affection, at least when the play starts. Dee Nelson is lovely and frustrating as Cynthia, his bride and downfall. The pride of place goes to Judith Mcintyre as Libby, her sister, who experiences the most transformation while remaining true to herself, something the rest of the characters don't get much chance to do. Barlow Adamson rounds out the quintet as Andrew, the only one who seems to have happiness as an actual goal in life. he's gay and kinda weird, but apparently lovable.
Scott Edmiston's direction is crisp, but the essential meaninglessness of Silver's dramatics defeats his efforts as it did in New York for Evan Yionoulis, who's now dealing with Baitz on the main stage. When a happy ending of sorts elicits a so-what shrug, it's a good thing that the acting is so uniformly proficient and the dialogue sharp, if often too glib. Janie Howland's set is light and efficient, with interesting if somewhat unnecessary keepsake boxes under glass incorporated in it. Karen Perlow's lights keep the action going, and Dewey Dellay's score and sound supports several critical moments. Gail Astrid Buckley's costumes accentuate the play's finer moments, and probably keep the uncredited dressers' hopping. All in all, it's a more engaging evening of theatre than the effort downstairs, where too much is made of too little. Here the problem may be the reverse, but it does give the cast a lot to work with. Think of it as a beach novel without the sunblock.