“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” Unknown
In Tarragona, the writer (Gary Giovannetti) has presented the director (Elysa Marden) and all the actors with a substantial challenge. The characters, for the most part, walk a fine line between reality and caricature. And, to their credit, all deal with it with talent and skill.
In our first encounter with Greg (Tom Berdik) he is asked by his boss at the chemical company where he works to put a “spin” on the fact that Harry, the company’s Director of Corporate Communications, has been found guilty of child pornography. His pompous boss Charles (Jonathan Weber), dressed in business suit and tie, is scarily real and recognizable. The fact that he doesn’t see anything wrong with child pornography says it all.
Amy (Cecily Benjamin Hughes) is in the cubicle next to Greg and, though always with the best of intentions, constantly reminds Greg of all his bad luck by saying all the wrong things at the wrong time. Greg doesn’t just have a bad day, he has what appears to be a bad life…he is endlessly passed over for job promotions, his girl friend has dumped him…the list of grievances goes on and on. It is Amy’s character who has the difficult task of exposition within the play. She does it well, though another option might be to make her a bit less of a caricature.
CK Allen is excellent in the role of Nelson, bringing a welcome breath of reality to the production. He is the fellow employee who encourages and supports Greg, telling him truthfully, “You’ve got a whole haunted house full of ghosts”.
The adventure begins when Greg mistakenly receives an email from an unknown lady in the company’s office in Tarragona, Spain. Though they have only exchanged a few emails, when there is a bombing in her office Greg, fearing that she is injured or killed, quits his job and flies to Spain, acknowledging that “Going there may be a mistake. Leaving here is not.” He is terrified of flying. His brother, an avid traveler, was killed in a plane crash. None of it is logical. It’s completely out of character.
The two meet in a café in Tarragona. Christina (Lidia Ornero) is a young, sexy Spanish woman given to wearing very tight, brightly colored outfits and speaking with a heavy Spanish accent. Aptly played as a combination of a “Valley Girl” and a “Jersey Shore” character (depending on which coast you reference) she may be villain or heroine.
We move from the initial meeting to Christina’s birthday party that evening where we meet Jaume (Stephen Girasuolo), an “artist” who is more than a little odd. He proudly presents one of his “creations” as a dolphin though in reality it is a scotch tape holder. He is an interesting mixture of a real person and a writer’s creation. It’s a difficult balance and he does it well.
We follow the love affair of Greg and Christina…and its outcome. There are effective intermittent projections (Chris Kateff) of Skype calls from Nelson to Greg in which Nelson remarks on the almost unbelievable change in Greg. Who is, indeed, a different person.
The final scene between Greg and Ana is full of surprises—none of which I am going to tell you about. Go see the show and find out for yourself. But hurry, it only runs through Saturday, October 27th (Thursday at 7 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.) at 312 West 36th Street (between 8th and 9th Avenues).
Presented by the WorkShop Theater Company
Written by Gary Giovannetti
Directed by Elysa Marden
Photos by Ahvi Spindell from top:
1. Lidia Ornero and Tom Berdik
2. CK Allen and Tom Berdik
3. Cecily Benjamin Hughes and Tom Berdik
4. Lidia Ornero and Tom Berdik
5. Lori Faiella
6. Jonathan Weber and Tom Berdik