By William Wolf

MEANINGFUL CONVERSATION  Send This Review to a Friend

It takes quite a while before there are a few moments of rare meaningful conversation in this new play by Owen Panettieri, and it ultimately ends with gimmickry. But holding interest throughout are excellent cast members who provide a feeling of watching real people.

The play, realistically directed by Anaïs Koivisto, is a presentation of New Light Theater Project in association with Luis Miranda, Jr. It takes place in the apartment of David, played convincingly by Denver Milord, who feels that he has always screwed up in his life. There is a blackout underway and David is improvising with tiny battery-driven lights.

Enter Nat, portrayed by Bethany Geraghty as a motor-mouthed neighbor who comes in through David’s window via the fire escape, and conversation leads to her staying a while. She induces David into playing a childish game of building a tent—we see the process with the use of blankets--and there is soon the expected physical attraction.

The conversation is dopy and far from meaningful, until each begins to tell about past events, with Nat having an especially upsetting background involving the murder of her mother. These moments of revelation temporarily give substance to the play’s title.

The situation is interrupted periodically by sounds they hear through the wall—a couple fighting ferociously with the possibility that the woman could be physically harmed. As for Nat and David, they eventually part company in an argumentative atmosphere and Nat retreats through the window back to her own digs.

The second act begins with David in bed with Lydia, whom he has just met and who is portrayed by Bertha Leal. Lydia is cute and has a very feisty personality. There are more other apartment noises, and intrigued Lydia eagerly get into the listening spirit by putting her ear against the wall. The situation prompts David to finally take a firm action in his life and phone the police. The two cops whom we eventually meet are effectively played by SJ Hannah (Martinez) and John-Peter Cruz (Vardakas).

But the playwright builds David’s call into an unlikely situation involving Nat that makes David regret what he has done and he determinedly takes action to try to make amends. Our experience with the characters presented us, although they are well acted, and even engaging at times, ends in a play that is very much at sea and fails to pull everything together with some sort of depth or significance. At the Jeffrey and Paula Gural Theatre at the A.R.T./New York Theatres (502 West 53rd Street. Reviewed September 13, 2018.


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