If that opening line seems catty, it is purposefully so, and is inspired by Blasius' new play, which is as charmless and needlessly catty a production as this reviewer has seen all season. When four couples converge for a beach weekend on Long Island, the fur flies as old friends and new lovers try (in vain) to understand each other, and life, in the process.
There is no other way to say it: nothing much happens in this show. Although there are four couples at various stages of their relationship, there is nothing new - or entertaining - in their struggle. In fact, newness is lacking all the way around in this production: the comedy, the quips, and the costumes all feel pre-1996. Usually, that level of consistency is a perk of experiencing a good show. But here, with dialogue and situations that are supposed to feel contemporary, everything feels like an accidental anachronism.
So surprising was the lack of fundamental conflict or contemporary, intelligent humor, that this reviewer doubted his own recollection of the show a mere twenty-four-hours later. Yet upon rereading the script, memory proved not to be failing.
At their best, comedic and dramatic situations that rely heavily on gay characters can nimbly bounce between bathos and pathos to memorable effect. But comedy that still insists on trafficking solely in gym bunnies, venereal diseases, drunk bitchy queens, and gender-switching pronouns must have an extraordinarily strong foundation on which to perch. No such foundation exists in I Could Say More. Its dramatic foundation is confusing. There are too many mundane story lines competing for the audiences' attention, which - twenty-minutes into the play - had already begun to flag. (An over eager heating system might also have contributed to the feeling that the production was four hours long, instead of its actual two-hour running time.)
The direction (by playwright Blasius, who also stars) is no less confusing. In an effort to build an ensemble, multiple-story-line production, the author-director has dissipated any potential dramatic focus and made a real mess of the stage. Blasius tries hard to connect to his own material but as writer-director-actor he is over committed and the material, the direction, and his performance suffer.
There were a few high points in the evening. Two actors, Brett Douglas as Drew and Robert Gomes as Joe, offer up deadpan delivery so dry the one-hundred-degree room may have actually crackled. And the scenic designer, Clifton Chadick, has obviously spent some time in a Fire Island summer rental. With its mismatched furniture and track lighting (lighting design by Brian Tovar), the set screams cheap summer chic.
At the end of the production, everyone has left the beach except Blasius' character, Carl. In a fit of depression (his brother-in-law's boyfriend has rejected him) he refuses to speak to anyone who pays him a visit, turns his back on the audience, and ends the play in silence. Apparently, he couldn't say anything more. The lights dimmed, signaling the end, and he remained, thankfully, speechless.
Hudson Guild Theatre
441 West 26th Street
For tickets and performance schedule visit Ovationtix.com.
Produced by: Other Side Productions
Written and directed by: Chuck Blasius
Phil.....Grant James Varjas
Scenic Design: Clifton Chadick
Lighting Design: Brian Tovar
Sound Design: Roger Anderson
Costume Design: Esther Colt Coats