BWW Review: FUSION Plays With Love But Lacks Passion

BWW Review: FUSION Plays With Love But Lacks PassionAdam Parrish's play Fusion is currently running at The Actors Theatre Workshop, bringing the story of one couple's struggle to stay together to the New York stage. While it has some effective elements, Fusion seems to make a caricature of relationships rather than delving deep to explore intimacy between two people.

Alison and Daniel have been together for nearly six months and have their routine locked in, right down to the banter. They tease each other about favorite actors and everyday preferences, snuggling up on the couch to ward off the cold Boston night. All is lighthearted until Daniel pops a question: he's been offered the chance of a lifetime to write movies in Hollywood, his dream job, and he wants his dream girl to come along for the ride. They play things out until Alison makes it clear that she can't make that kind of commitment so early in the relationship and Daniel leaves for warmer weather.

Three years later, hot off an Oscar win, Daniel shows up at Alison's apartment after midnight, drunk. He tries to show off his new life and 'douchey' personality and impresses her not at all. The next day he returns to apologize and makes one more plea, saying he doesn't want to go on living the successful LA life without The One That Got Away. This time Alison is swayed and reasonable compromises are achieved.

What Fusion attempts, a quiet two person dialogue play, may seem simple, but the simplicity demands perfection and this piece is lacking. Conversations go on too long (this may be the record for the number of times Kevin Costner's name appears in a script) or never quite reach fruition. Logic strings arguments together but seems unnatural at times. Daniel mentions he's not keen on long-distance relationships and Alison seems to accept that with hardly a second thought. Daniel never seems to consider the idea that his life as a screenwriter in LA could be temporary and single job based offering the chance to return to Boston. There's never a word about finances or how a screenwriter will support an unemployed chef in search of work. Not to mention that when Daniel shows up drunk at Alison's apartment after nearly three years of silence, Alison humors him and merely stands by waiting for him to make his own way out. (Surely most women would hardly entertain a text from an ex-boyfriend after 11pm much less a visit.)

Parrish's script is not altogether unsuccessful, it just plays very one-sided. Daniel is well written with a full personality and the right amount of ambition and vulnerability. Actor Charlie Wilson brings energy to the part and even while being exasperating manages a level of humor and charm. It's easy to see why a woman like Alison would fall in love with the charming and inspired Daniel, but in an unfortunate twist it's nearly impossible to see how Daniel would fall for the thoroughly average Alison.

Alison is a shoddy representation of the female psyche, giving the sense that the script was penned by a man who did his best to understand the female prerogative but missed the mark. She would have a far better chance as a character without the flat and unenthusiastic work of Madeleine Maby. Her moves are static and made ever more so by Wilson's dynamism. Katie Honaker's direction doesn't help, blocking Alison without much inspiration or movement.

The play's other elements are effectively world building. The set design by Brian Dudkiewicz manages to deftly portray Boston/Cambridge charm, differentiating from New York style apartment with subtle accents. It's one failing is contributing to the flatness of the piece; the actors have little to work with other than a couple of mugs and a TV remote and nowhere to go other than the opposite side of the couch.

The costumes by Katja Andreiev are also subtle, transitioning from winter to spring and dressing Daniel as hopeful writer and later successful LA career man. Lighting by Drew Florida is warm and homey, only falling short slightly in a television effect that reads more like a dying bulb.

Fusion is a small play with small goals that may benefit from more ambition. The characters seem to shuffle through the motions. In the face of dreams versus relationships, there is a mysterious lack of fight. The love is there, but not the passion.

Photo Courtesy DDPR

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From This Author Julie Musbach

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