BWW Reviews: Therapeutic BRIDGE CLUB Makes Better TV Fare Than Theatre

May 1
12:18 PM 2012

The-Bridge-Club-Offers-Therapy-for-Suicide-Prevention-20010101

The Bridge Club

by Richard Raskind
directed by Mike Sabatino
Guest Production @ Deaf West Theatre
through May 12

During the first half hour of Richard Raskind's world premiere The Bridge Club, I was genuinely engaged by its unusual set of circumstances, its believable dialogue and two main characters Jack (Christopher Franciosa) and Sue (Nancy Dobbs Owen). I really got to like both of them and so wanted the play to go in a linear direction. Alas, Raskind veered 100% away from that, and to some, who like their dramas akin to TV's Touched by an Angel, that will bring pleasure. I wanted more. Now under Mike Sabatino's steady direction and fine cast, The Bridge Club, despite its theatrical letdown, is still entertaining fare...and don't let its title deceive you, it's not about a group of oldsters playing cards.

If I give away the one twist, I will ruin the play for those who have not yet seen it. For that alone, my lips are sealed. Suffice to say, the 75 minute play would fit better into one act, but I can see why it breaks off where it does to heighten audience suspense. There is a bit of suspense and comedy as two other characters provide amusingly fun moments. Shelly Kurtz makes the most of what he has to work with as Harold and Andrew Villarreal makes Sebastian a peculiarly interesting case. Vesna Tolomanoska is sweet and caring in her one scene as Jack's wife Ginny. Franciosa and Owen are fine actors who make us care about the characters they play, up to a point. Through no fault of theirs, it's the writing that fails them. Therapeutic advice is expected in a play that deals with suicide, but having a character repeat lines about spousal love more than three times, in the same manner, is inexcusable. I half expected Roma Downey to come out and whail, "Jack, God loves you, he really does!" This is theatre, not television. The audience has payed and wants to laugh heartily and/or cry their guts out. They want more than gimmicks and predictable endings. There is a good play inside The Bridge Club, and I hope Raskind rethinks his premise and comes up with it.

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