No Way Around But Through
by Scott Caan
directed by Val Lauren
through July 8
Scott Caan's No Way Around But Through, described as a dark romantic comedy, is indeed quirky. It exudes an affably offbeat humor while drumming a painstaking determination to get at the truth. One cannot deny its exceeding verbiage at questioning the point of living, as it becomes repetitious and way overdone, but its premise and resolution, or temporary remedy, are full of hope. Now onstage at the Falcon Theatre, No Way...playing until July 8, will most likely find its most attentive audiences among the now generation.
Caan knows how to write for himself. As an actor, he is good at displaying the angst and confusion that come with skirting the issues at hand, avoiding one's responsibility. This is in a nutshell his Jacob, who blames his mother Lulu (Melanie Griffith) for the mess that he is and tries to make sense of his potential role with girlfriend Holly (Robyn Cohen). But he is more attuned to himself than to her. The first scene in which Holly tries to make Jacob aware of how uncaring he is toward her has dialogue that is annoyingly turned inside out and repetitive, yet it goes a long way in showing just how insecure and riddled with fear Jacob is. Caan succeeds in driving Jacob forward and in making Holly, Lulu and pal Frank (Val Lauren) his therapists. Only Holly's friend Rachel (Bre Blair) dislikes him from the get-go and is not afraid to tell him so.
The crux of the plot has Holly telling Jacob that she is pregnant with his child - when she isn't completely sure, and Jacob not knowing what to do, so both end up visiting, without the other one knowing, Jacob's crazy mother Lulu to try to find the answers. Lulu and Jacob are at odds, don't get along, never have, and Holly tries to find a remedy for them to at least communicate sensibly. Here Holly serves as therapist, as does Frank, who goes along for the ride but lets his sexual libido take over; he really works at 'picking up' Rachel rather than helping Jacob. It all comes to a pleasant conclusion, though, as all five characters attempt to adjust, no matter how unsteadily they do so. As described by Lulu, "it is what it is", "set it up and watch it fall", so why bother? A negative but realistic view to be sure. But it's only one perspective.
Under Val Lauren's even keel direction, the actors all win our approval. Caan is fiercely intense, never swaying from his journey, never giving up or in, always trying new angles in his attempt to find the answers. Cohen is stunning as Holly, loving and caring of Jacob and attempting as best she can to control their destiny together. Lauren is a riot as Frank, without ever going over the top. He has a delightfully natural flair for comedy and off-the-cuff technique, and kind of sneaks in his dark intentions when you least expect them. His chemistry with Caan hits the mark. Blair makes the smaller role of Rachel interesting and surprising at every turn. Griffith as Lulu is complex as all get out, only allowing us to see glimpses of the monster she can be. It's an amazing character change for her, as she is so used to playing the sweet, gentle ingenue. Griffith's strong sense of her character is very personal and internal, perfectly suited for the camera, and all through the play, I sensed that No Way Around But Through would make a really fine movie. Its complicated journey is cinematic with character details that lend themselves to closeups.
As is, the play is satisfying fare, and with its terrific acting and direction, will most definitely pull you in and give you a run for your money.