BWW Reviews: Somewhat Predictable, but Still Very Entertaining, the Guthrie's SKIING ON BROKEN GLASS
It's opening night of David Goldstein's SKIING ON BROKEN GLASS at the Guthrie and as the play forms around me, it feels all too familiar--a love that makes no sense, an escort, unsupportive peers, and a constant battle of conscience. Sounds like Pretty Woman, only this time around it's a same-sex couple? The play is just a little expected but in the end it leaves you with something to chat about by the water cooler in the breakroom and captures a few very real moments that make it all worthwhile.
Here's the premise: Mark (Michael Booth) is a writer who is not only lonely but still damaged from the death of his partner. He then meets Todd (David Darrow) who is young, handsome and oh yeah--an escort. Although Mark can't seem to resist Todd, his past is somewhat of a mystery. Soon enough the two are knee-deep in a relationship that is very unique to the two of them. Todd works as an escort and Mark doesn't complain. Enter now friend Edith and her fiancé Thomas (Michelle O'Neill & Bill McCallum) who don't really understand their relationship nor do they even want to try.
The story takes us through Mark and Todd's journey together from that first awkward night together when Mark really only wanted someone to talk to, and finally to their ending point together. Now whether they stay together or grow too far apart is something you'll just have to experience for yourself when you see the show.
The Guthrie does a marvelous job of staging this production, which could easily fall flat when put in the wrong hands because let's face it the script is slightly hollow and lacks characters that make you want to care. Even with a lackluster script, the only major problem with this show, is the final scene--at least for me. The production continues to build but it's almost as if Goldstein said, "alright, I gotta wrap this up because I only get 60-minutes at the fringe" and then never went back to adjust appropriately. After spending the duration of the show, deciding whether or not you want to potentially care about these people...it's over. The lights are coming up, the cast is taking their bow and you're saying, "that's it?"
But despite the script, which is mediocre with a few flashes of greatness, the performances are great. The set is great. The lighting is great. The direction is great. Everything the Guthrie brings to this production is great. It's just the script that's not my favorite.
Darrow, who plays Todd, enters with a burst of energy, and pings around the room drawing all eyes and attention to him. He makes it very clear why someone would be attracted to him, and then he takes off his shirt, which solidifies everything. All the while Booth, who plays Mark, is shy and awkward across the stage as the mild tempered novelist. His character goes from a quiet, people-pleasing, pushover to a much stronger person thoughout the duration of the show and Booth manages to make the transition without bashing it over your head. Kuddos, Booth.
Then there's O'Neill, who immediately upon entering the scene you love her. Although her character is written as "that" girlfriend every gay guy has, she does a great job of giving Edith a slight edge that makes her at least a little more interesting then the tired girlfriends I know I've been dealing with these days.
McCallum peforms the other smaller role in the show and does well. Intially he's somewhat charming as Edith's fiance, and when his dark secret is revealed you think he's a scumbag. I call that a success--well played, McCallum, well played.
Applause must also be given for the production elements. Michael Hoover beautifully designed the set--it feels much like a home and works from all angles. I was sitting on a side and enjoyed the show just as much as if I had been sitting dead center. Ryan Connealy, Montana Johnson and Christine A. Richardson all do wonderful in their respective jobs of lighting, sound, and costume designing for the show. I also can't forget to mention Justin Hossle, whom I believe was running around like silent madman changing various set pieces between scenes.
Finally, there's Joe Dowling, who leads the charge in creating a performance that is indeed entertaining. And whether it's because he pulled it out of them or they all just brought it to the table he, the four-person cast and this crew have something that people should see. No, not everyone will love it--but it's solid and worth an evening trip to the theatre.