BWW Reviews: OUR NEW GIRL is Only Scantly Thrilling

The brief opening scene of Nancy Harris' Our New Girl, described by the Atlantic Theater Company as a psychological thriller, contains one of those chilling moments that causes audience members to impulsively gasp, avert their eyes or feel the tingle of their own hairs standing on end.

It immediately leaps into a confrontation scene that heightens interest in where exactly the Irish playwright is going. Alas, by the play's unclear conclusion it seems that she's going nowhere thrilling and perhaps only a tad psychological.

Taking place in the kitchen a well-off British couple (fine work by set designer Timothy R. Mackabee), the evening concerns the troubled relationship between plastic surgeon Richard (CJ Wilson) and his wife, Hazel (Mary McCann), a former lawyer struggling to make a profit with her at-home business selling imported olive oil. (The increasing abundance of boxes of the stuff comes off as an attempt at a running gag.)

While away on a charitable mission in Haiti, Richard has arranged for a young Irish nanny, Annie (Lisa Joyce), to help the pregnant Hazel look after their troubled young son, Daniel (Henry Kelemen).

Daniel is an emotionally guarded little boy who does a lot of quiet observing and acts out on what he perceives. Eventually it becomes apparent that being lonely for his father's attention and knowing that it's his business to heal scars is a dangerous combination.

Though Harris' dialogue is sharp and interesting, her plot moves slowly into the expected clichés that accompany the presence of a pretty young nanny assimilating into a new household. The pivotal scene that changes relationships requires a great deal of suspension of disbelief and while the playwright dangles many possibilities in front of us, the second act fizzles out into an unlikely conclusion.

Director Gaye Taylor Upchurch and her fine cast draw up as much tension as can be mustered and ten-year-old Kelemen makes a very good stage debut with his disturbing, sullen performance, but Our New Girl fails to satisfy.

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Michael Dale After 20-odd years singing, dancing and acting in dinner theatres, summer stocks and the ever-popular audience participation murder mysteries (try improvising with audiences after they?ve had two hours of open bar), Michael Dale segued his theatrical ambitions into playwriting. The buildings which once housed the 5 Off-Off Broadway plays he penned have all been destroyed or turned into a Starbucks, but his name remains the answer to the trivia question, "Who wrote the official play of Babe Ruth's 100th Birthday?" He served as Artistic Director for The Play's The Thing Theatre Company, helping to bring free live theatre to underserved communities, and dabbled a bit in stage managing and in directing cabaret shows before answering the call (it was an email, actually) to become BroadwayWorld.com's first Chief Theatre Critic. While not attending shows Michael can be seen at Citi Field pleading for the Mets to stop imploding. Likes: Strong book musicals and ambitious new works. Dislikes: Unprepared celebrities making their stage acting debuts by starring on Broadway and weak bullpens.