“Thirsty” Not Worth the Right Swipe

Photo by Haris Lefteri

Photo by Haris Lefteri; pictured: Adjovi A. Koene

Presented by Ya Bird? Productions
By Greg Hovanesian
Directed by Haris Lefteri

October 30, 2016
The Rockwell
255 Elm Street
Somerville, MA
Ya Bird? Productions on Facebook

Review by Travis Manni

(Somerville, MA) I love a show with a holiday theme to get me in the right kind of festive mood. And what better way to let the Halloween spirit possess me than going to see Thirsty, a show about online dating and vampires.

Jeremy (Michael J. Reardon) is incredibly single and awkward, and finds himself going on the same dates over and over again. He seeks the counsel of best friend Micah (Jonathan Barron), a playboy and total ladies’ man, but on his way home runs into Alphonso (David DiLillo), a mysterious night-walker type who tricks Jeremy into downloading an app called Thirsty.

After making a connection on Thirty with Vanessa (Adjovi A. Koene), a beautiful seductress who likes to cut to the chase, Jeremy quickly finds himself on a different kind of date—one that ends with an invitation back to Vanessa’s apartment. But after hooking up, Jeremy wakes up in agonizing pain and is unable to remember anything; also, normal food is unable to satiate his new thirst. Noticing Jeremy’s odd behavior, Micah tries to find out what’s wrong, but it could be too late to save him.

The biggest hurtle that Thirsty stumbles over is world building. There is too much focus on the mundane, which did not allow for the appropriate amount of time to craft a world that the audience could either accept, envision, or care about.

After watching the show, I was also confused about its length. Thirsty does not need two acts to tell its story, and frankly it could use a few rounds of workshopping. There were many scenes that were either overlong or wholly unnecessary, including the opening scene where we see Jeremy struggling through an awkward first date for fifteen minutes. It should only take about five to get this point across, but by the end it was no longer compelling. The humor dried out. There is also a semi-graphic sex scene that felt like it lasted a straight five minutes and did nothing to heighten the show, but rather, appeared to exist for shock value alone.

Furthermore, the script itself lacks direction and humor. There wasn’t anything new about playwright Greg Hovanesian’s work and it struggled to hone in on the message it wanted to convey to the audience. Not only was there no clear message, the show, which I was told was a comedy, lacked any clever humor, but rather, played to the audience’s knowledge of online dating in the 21st century. As a twenty-something, this genre of humor fell flat early on.

Even the scene transitions felt awkward and unnatural. The music used in between scenes was the same exact track, an unimaginative and stock whimsy that played so softly that I often heard stagehands talking to each other and snickering when they accidentally bumped into things. It became distracting and I felt like I was being forced to listen to the same elevator music on repeat.

Leading actor Michael J. Reardon does a fine job of portraying Jeremy. He is awkward with small hints of OCD, but the character himself isn’t particularly interesting. While it is fine that he isn’t an extraordinary person in this world, there’s no riveting background provided for the audience to ever feel invested in Jeremy’s fate. Jonathan Barron as Micah kept the show going, perfectly playing the role of a charismatic sleazebag and giving the audience something to look forward to; the one downside being how disposable he was as a secondary character. This was a common trait in the majority of the minor characters.

One piece of the show that I did enjoy were the scenes in Jeremy’s dark room, where he developed photos. The lighting was eerie and highlighted the darker, Halloween vibes that I had been hoping to see from the this show. But unfortunately, red lighting was not enough to save Thirsty, or Jeremy, from its lackluster demise.

Thirsty runs for 2 hours, 15 minutes with one intermission.

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