Woman Around Town’s Editor Charlene Giannetti and writers for the website talk with the women and men making news in New York, Washington, D.C., and other cities around the world. Thanks to Ian Herman for his wonderful piano introduction.

George Allison

Loose Ends – Remember the Seventies?


Attending Michael Weller’s 1988 Loose Ends is like time travel. The playwright’s depiction of 1970s disaffected youth, an idealistic Peace Corps, good natured, soft drug use, living off the land, free love, and cheap travel is immensely evocative without being entirely one sided. We see aspiration toward and achievement of traditional lifestyles side by side with utter self indulgence, references to “selling out,” and dog tags. (Sound Designer Andy Evan Cohen contributes just the right music.)

Somewhat straight-laced Paul (Loren Bidner) and free spirited Susan (Sarah Mae Vink) are cavorting on a beach in Bali. (A discreet sheet is at one point abandoned.) He’s just out of the Core (an illuminating anecdote says it all), she’s aimlessly exploring. They would stay together were it not for a private school teaching job he’s secured back home.

Melanie Glancy, Sarah Mae Vink, and Loren Bidner

For nine years we follow the couple as they separate, come together, commute, cohabit, eventually marry, find respective personal arts, build careers, repeatedly relocate, split, and bed one another…Dates appear on a screen also utilized to project environs.

Orbiting the pair while going through their own changes are: pothead builder, army veteran Doug (Erik Endsley), and his mate, earth mother Maraya (Maggie Alexander); Susan’s old friend, ditsy, irritating Janice (Melanie Glancy), first with spacey, ashram assistant Russell (Ivan Sandomire), and then city planner Phil (Gregory Barone); Paul’s film editing partner Selina (Hui-Shan Yong), and his overachieving brother Ben (Jason Asher).

Sarah Mae Vink and Hui-Shan Yong

For reasons perhaps known only by Weller, Susan stays with or returns to Paul, endlessly pulling him up by his bootstraps, despite his being thoughtless, self centered, whiny, and volatile. Charisma and/or redeeming attributes are, if present, well masked. It’s difficult to sit through a 2 ½ hour play disliking the protagonist. Nor does it help that Loren Bidner delivers a one note portrayal of the exasperating young man.

Unfortunately, he’s not alone. I’ve seen some first rate productions at T. Schreiber. This one is not well cast. Sarah Mae Vink is clearly speaking English as a second language. The peek-a-boo accent manifests inappropriate effort and makes her less American. Like Bidner, though with parenthetic exceptions, she appears to be all surface. I can’t help but wonder whether the young actors have any sense of what the 70s were like.

Sarah Mae Vink and Loren Bidner

Among the rest of this large cast, three and a half actors work with particular authenticity:                                                                                                                         Teruaki Akai, in the very small role of a Balinese Fisherman, is credible and sweet.
Erik Endsley’s speedy, stoned, robust Doug is appealingly familiar from loosey goosey, Big-Bird-physicality to unregulated volume.
Jason Asher is so real he could walk out of the theater in his role. Every gesture, tone, and reaction are inherently Ben.
Hui-Shan Young’s Selina comes alive in a discussion with Susan about pregnancy.
These actors visibly think before they speak as well as when they’re silent.

Terry Schreiber’s Direction is uneven. The stage is used effectively, small business enhances, pacing is good. Maraya follows giving Doug the finger with a puckered kiss and later knots his necktie on herself before putting it around his neck – great. Susan and Paul are physically good with one another.

On the other hand, Maraya handles her babies as if they were dolls, especially vis-à-vis breast feeding and jerking tiny arms up to wave. Several actors lose focus almost every time they turn towards the audience. None of the champagne bottles pop. There’s no reason Gus Solomons Jr. has to be cliché-limp-wristed as Susan’s flamboyant boss. Many of the actors don’t listen to one another.

George Allison’s Set Design is cleverly constructed from large, cut-out, cardboard photos. Susan’s photographic montage (you can look at intermission) cleverly embeds images of the actors in character. Projections clash with the cut-outs.

Clarissa Marie-Ligan’s Ming Dynasty horse is perfect. (Properties)

Costumes by Hope Governali are almost all cheap looking and unflattering. As several characters grow well heeled, this doesn’t jell. One understands cost limitations, but …

While Loose Ends rings true to its era, why a revival now? In the last weeks, I’ve seen pieces by Arthur Miller, Eugene O’Neill, and efforts by three lesser known authors, all of which seem as relevant today as when they were set and/or written.

Photos by Frank Spring
Opening: Loren Bidner & Sarah Mae Vink

Loose Ends by Michael Weller
Directed by Terry Schreiber
T. Schreiber Studio & Theater
151 West 26th Street
Through April 15, 2017

Harper Regan – Excellent Production, Problematic Play


Simon Stephens, winner of the 2015 Tony Award for Best Play, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, wrote Harper Regan some five years prior. The earlier effort describes relocated Manchester people of a class with whom the playwright was raised. Attitudes are authentic to geography and culture as well as the author’s imaginative characterization – i.e. everyone feels true. Dialogue is wonderful. Alas, individual scenes and included exposition is sometimes superfluous. Narrative sorely needs editing. Aside from this, the T. Schreiber production is excellent on all fronts.

In essence, this is a story of halting self discovery, an unwitting pilgrimage which stimulates change in outlook.


Maeve Yore and Jerry Topitzer

Harper (Maeve Yore), her genial husband Seth (effectively tenuous Richard Stables), both in their early forties, and their academically smart, yet Goth teenage daughter, Sarah (well calibrated Lauren Capkanis), have recently moved here. All are unsettled.

When her beloved father falls into a diabetic coma, Harper naturally requests a few days off from an administrative job she’s executed faultlessly since arrival. Her obtuse, self-serving boss, Elwood Barnes (infuriatingly real Jerry Topitzer), refuses to let her go on penalty of dismissal. Husband Seth is unemployed, perhaps unemployable, due to his inclusion on a national list of sexual offenders as a pedophile, charges Harper denies. She’s her family’s sole support. Responsibility sits heavy.


Lauren Capkanis; Richard Stables

Next thing we know, Harper’s at the hospital in Stockport, having left home telling no one where she’s going. Doctor? Nurse? Justine (an aptly insensitive Mega Grace) sits with the bereaved, but like many characters in this play, ends up rambling on about her own life.

Having missed the opportunity to tell her father she loved him, alienated from a mother (Margo Goodman) who apparently believed Seth guilty, causing a family rift, Harper is at loose ends in her old home town.

Exorcism of sorrow and frustration takes the form of almost picking up the somewhat younger Micky Nestor (a credible Ryan Johnston) in a bar, a gesture of unexpected violence, and having a trist with middle-aged stranger at a hotel. (Both of these encounters are deftly penned.) And finally, confronting her mother.

By the time Harper goes back home, she’s altered.

The play is sprinkled with politics and sexual innuendo, some of it seemingly without reason. Two young Arabs, Tobias (a first rate Mike Phillip Gomez), whom Harper meets on an embankment and with whom there’s palpable attraction and Mahesh (Vick Krishna), an assistant contractor working with her stepfather (John Fennessy) appear as reflections of time and place. At least three characters express vehement bigotry. Elwood Barnes inappropriately compliments his employee and refers to Harper’s daughter almost licking his lips, Harper’s sexual proclivity is variously tempted and indulged, a late moment of doubt about Seth’s innocence is unnerving.


Maeve Yore and Mike Phillips Gomez

Maeve Yore (Harper Regan) is flat out terrific. There isn’t a moment we don’t thoroughly believe every word and move, some of which are neither logical nor anticipated. Yore’s focus/stage presence makes even silence compelling. Emotions and thoughts are practically visible. Yore may be worth the play.

With great attention to detail, Director Terry Schreiber gives every character individual attributes. Seth’s immensely physical realization works splendidly for a man beneath whom the earth has shifted. Conversations are beautifully paced allowing for awkwardness and/or reflection. Stage use is organic and skillful.

Dialogue Coach Page Clements does a crackerjack job.

Minimal Set is cleverly conceived by George Allison using mostly blocks and boards.

Photo of Ryan Johnston & Maeve Yore at the bar- Gili Getz
All other Photos- Remy

Opening: Maeve Yore

T. Schreiber Studio for Theatre & Film presents Harper Regan by Simon Stephens
Directed by Terry Schreiber
The Gloria Maddox Theatre
151 West 26th Street   7th Floor
Through June 4, 2016