Tender to the Touch:”Burning Up the Dictionary”

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Photo credit: Vagabond Theatre Group; Meyer and Hoover are about to suck face. Awesome.

presented by Vagabond Theatre Group
written by Meron Langsner
directed by James Peter Sotis
incidental music by Santiago Cardenas

November 28 – December 1, 2012
Rehearsal Hall A
Calderwood Pavilion
Boston Center for the Arts

Vagabond Theatre Group Facebook Page

(Boston) George (Tim Hoover) and Suzie-Fay (Cassandra Meyer) are best buds attempting to reconcile their friendship after ending their intense love affair. To say that “it’s complicated” would be putting it mildly. In this 2 act play by Meron Langsner, George and Suzie navigate their break-up and learn that sometimes love isn’t enough.

The intimate space of Rehearsal Hall A was the perfect environment for this 2 person melodrama. Hoover and Meyer seemed uncomfortable in front of their audience but completely at home in each other’s arms. They have great chemistry. A majority of the play focuses on how poorly their character’s relate to each other in every way except the sexual. Yet, second to an adorably choreographed superhero fight (by Angel Veza), the most relaxed moments of the show are when they are on the phone. It was unclear whether this is an active choice to explore their emotional co-dependence or not. As an acting technique, it’s a clever way to express their characters’ need for companionship but it does not explain their awkwardness in scenes where they share the same physical space. Their awkwardness was distracting but not so much so as to deter from the performance.

Awkwardness aside, Meyer and Hoover relate to each other realistically. Part of this is due to Langsner’s script. The couple begin their affair as friends, never consciously define the relationship or its boundaries and then proceed to make assumptions about acceptable behavior without conferring.  And we all know what happens when one makes assumptions. How well or poorly these characters treat each other is based on whimsical, constantly changing definitions of love. Langsner forces Suzie and George to look deeply into the depths of their relationship and examine if they really are in love or if they’re addicted to how love feels. It’s a delicate conundrum to navigate successfully; Langsner’s script manages very well. So well that one might decide to see the show alone or even skip the production if one is experiencing trouble in relationship paradise. Due to its potential to inspire inward reflection (or in my case, boat rocking), it may be best experienced by heartier couples.

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