When Jerry and George pitched a sitcom within the sitcom to network executives, they said it was “about nothing.” The Jerry Seinfeld Show achieved tremendous popularity by depicting everyday, recognizable incidents with which its audience was familiar/comfortable. Characters were well developed, sympathetic, familial, and wry.
The five twenty-something friends we meet here are existential in their lack of connection or caring. Except for narrator Alice (Ruby Frankel, the stand-out), an aspiring writer, entitled personalities arrive as sketches who act disenfranchised and bored. Pot, coke and vodka provoke inhibition. We don’t particularly like anyone and wonder only about older, downstairs neighbor Bill, who thinks he’s found a kindred soul in Marie. (Maurice Jones – solid performance).
Framed by an ersatz book club densely discussing Anne Tyler’s Dinner At the Homesick Restaurant – dialogue means nothing if you haven’t read it – the play introduces us to: oddly matched, codependent roommates Marie (Sadie Scott), a seriously depressive introvert; vivacious, pretty Jill (Juliana Canfield); Keith (Christian Strange), who declares every book they read is an exposé of “toxic masculinity”; and, his best friend, Milo (Zane Pais), a rich kid who’s accustomed to getting away with bad behavior. Milo and Jill are a couple, though Jill shows far more affection to Marie.
Everyone gets drunk, stoned and confrontational. Foretold futures are not encouraging. That’s about it. The gimmick is that dialogue is regularly broken into by electronic hip hop music, disco lights, and moves that have nothing to do with anything. Ostensibly offering relief from passivity, these parentheses are simply annoying. If only Bill and Marie were the story here. (There’s only a glimpse into how this might’ve played out.)
It’s difficult to believe that author of the lively, intricate Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has penned something so empty. The cast is fine but underdeveloped writing makes them blend.
Brett J. Banakis gives us a wonderfully evocative first apartment (loft) whose centerpiece is an immense pile of books standing in for a campfire around which storytelling takes place. Alice can sometimes be seen sitting above on which appears to be a fire escape – and clever solution.
Photos by Monique Carboni
Opening: Keith (Christian Strange), Marie (Sadie Scott), Ruby Frankel (Alice), Zane Pais (Milo), Juliana Canfield (Jill)
Atlantic Theater Company presents
Sunday by Jack Thorne
Directed and Choreographed by Lee Sunday Evans
Linda Gross Theater
336 West 20th Street
Through October 13, 2019