Exit/Entrance

  • Date:
    September 1, 2010
    Review by:
    Tulis McCall

    Review by Tulis McCall
    (16 Sep 2010)

    Over dinner the other night I described this play: It is two scenes. The first one is a scene between a couple, who have been married for years, reviewing their life. The next is a couple in a similar apartment who are unpacking the boxes for their first home. Then I said – to pull something like that off you have to be a really, really good writer. Because the situation is such a cliché you need a text that will lift it off the page into the extraordinary.

    That is not what happens in this play. Pity.

    Helen (Linda Thorson) and Charles (Greg Mullavey) are remising in dribs and drabs. Their dialogue is Beckett–light in a way. Snatches of images of lives that are cluttered with small regrets. They sound as though they are preparing for a dual suicide, and that may be the case, but it is never clear. Charles refers to instructions and accounts all left in order, but why is never clear. Much is never clear, and these two fine actors are given the task of digging deep, which they do. The phone rings on and off, but they never answer it. Helen hopes it will be their son, Phil, from whom they are estranged, but we never find out because no one answers the phone. Helen treads delicately through their past and reflects on the new couple next door who we hear hammering nails into the wall (of a beautiful set by Maruti Evans). At the end of the act we know little more than we did at the beginning.

    Act Two brings us another Helen (Lara Hillier) and Charles (David L. Townsend) who are unpacking their new life. They seem at once to be the younger version of the first couple, making references to similar museums etc, and an altogether different couple because it is they who bang pictures into the wall. It is supposed to be a trick, I know, but it never quite works because, once again there is too much left to the actors and our imagination and not enough provided in the text. In addition this act is filled with the promises of true love and never ending youth that are bland. Yes, yes we are supposed to chuckle knowingly at them, having just seen another couple at the end of their lives. But I like to be guided into my reactions, not pushed.

    The writing is almost poetry in its style, filled with beguiling images, but it lacks the action necessary to pull a story forward. There is little truth and too much generalization. Exit/Entrance lacks the exhilaration that comes with beginnings and endings. It is all middling, which is a quality difficult to watch for long.

    (Tulis McCall)