By Dan LeFranc
Directed by Joannie Schultz
At American Theater Co, Chicago
Boring drama about loneliness and dysfunctional siblings fizzles for 75 minutes
Even after Dan LaFranc re-wrote much of Bruise Easy, his play is not stage worthy. It is slow-moving, with blatant gaps of silence and an unfulfilled plot. We meet the troubled, dysfunctional 20-something Alec (Matt Farabee) as he sits and smokes, leaning on his garage door in a suburban California town. He is a burned-out cynical person. When his sister, Tess (Kelly O’Sullivan), arrives from Colorado to see their mother, the wait begins. It quickly becomes obvious that Alec and Tess have a strange love/hate dynamic going on. And after we are plunged into many long silences, this weird, slowly paced drama reverts into a sort of Waiting for Godot, only with mother being the one they wait for.
As this work meanders on, we see incestuous sparks from both siblings, especially when Alec reveals his many hickeys. He talks Tess into letting him give her a hickey on her neck and his kiss lasts for much too long. And as they wait for their mother, a group of six teens forming a Greek chorus periodically appear to offer meaningless comments on the inaction.
After waiting for an extended period, Tess reveals she is pregnant and she induces Alec to engage in a seduction in-which she get Alec to keep punching her to induce an abortion. Throughout, we get hints of the mother being abusive toward Alec, but since the plot is underwritten, nothing is resolved. This pointless work drones on for 75 minutes that play like 75 hours, kinda of like watching paint dry. Farabee and O’ Sullivan try to make this vague, underwritten work worthy but they are limited by the pointless script. The work ends with the chorus explaining that the house has been the place where several families have experienced dooming troubles. So we are suppose to believe that the house caused incest and strange behavior from the siblings? Nothing in this play leads to that. It plays out as but another reason that Bruise Easy is a failed, boring work that begs the question: “Why did ATC produce such a terrible play?”
Theatre in Chicago podcast
Date Reviewed: January 15, 2016
For more info checkout the Bruise Easy page at theatreinchicago.com
At American Theatre Co, 1909 W.Byron, Chicago, IL, http://www.atcweb.org, tickets $28 – $43, Thursdays thru Saturdays at 8 pm, 2 pm matinees on Saturdays and Sundays, through February 14, 2016