Volume II, Issue II Summer 2003

'Sic' or not, it's still boring

Review by Charlene Baldridge

Written by Melissa James Gibson
Directed by Ruff Yeager

Sledgehammer Theatre
Saint Cecilia's Playhouse
1620 Sixth Avenue (at Cedar Street), San Diego, Calif.
Through Aug. 2


Recipient of a 2001 Obie Award for the writing of her highly praised play titled [sic], Melissa James Gibson assigned herself a difficult task, writing about three unsuccessful, and largely untalented, contemporary Manhattan 20somethings, jammed side-by-side into identical shoebox apartments.

As designed by sound designer Paul Peterson at Sledgehammer Theatre for the show's West Coast premiere, the show's naturalistic neighborhood noise very nearly steals the show and so does David Wiener's transparent, two story set, which allows theatergoers to see the couple – David Tierney and Robin Christ – in the larger apartment upstairs as they break up, at least from the waist down.

[sic] The word "sic" means "thus" or "just so," and is usually a kind of bracketed note bene to the reader or editor, indicating that even though what precedes the "sic" may look incorrect, it is "thus" or "so" that the speaker or cited writer said it.

All this seems to indicate that the title of the play means that what transpires is just as the playwright intends, fragmented bits of words, situations and conversations that seem to indict the vacuous nature of current youth culture.

Just as Chekhov found humor in boredom, Gibson finds it in 21st century urban angst. The problem is that boring and bored people make boring plays unless one is a poetic playwright like Chekhov or a true student of human nature like Alan Ayckbourn.

Janet Hayatshahi portrays Babette, a writer trying to find a publisher for her book, which concerns the effect of temper tantrums on world history. Farhang Pernoon plays Theo, a composer who is reduced to work-for-hire, truly banal pieces to accompany a roller coaster ride. Jason Waller portrays Frank, who is teaching himself, through a course on audiotape, to become an auctioneer.

Theo's ex-wife lives with Frank's former boyfriend (both unseen). Theo desires Babette and though it appears she once succumbed, she now spurns him.

Perhaps reading the play prior to attendance might bring a greater appreciation of its wordplay; however, this should not be necessary. It is a play.

Charlene Baldridge is a writer and artist living in San Diego.

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