IN HOCK AND UNHAPPY - CAN YOU FORGIVE HER? (Vineyard Theatre)

The three main characters in Gina Gionfriddo’s CAN YOU FORGIVE HER? each seems to be seeking some kind of security. Tanya (Ella Dershowitz), a single mom working as a bartender, just, sort of, making ends meet is terrified of falling back into credit card debt. She wants emotional security, too, and on her terms with Graham (Darren Pettie) an unemployed, twice-divorced almost forty drifter who‘s troubled and insecurity since his mother’s death months before. Enter Miranda (Amber Tamblyn) who ends up at Graham’s on Halloween night (don’t ask) having jilted her date at Tanya’s bar and fled with Graham. Back at dear departed Mom’s tacky house near the shore where Graham’s been staying, she divulges her life story, ultimately confessing she’s surviving as a kept woman, shouldering $200,000 in debt from college, grad school, then lifestyle. Eventually, Miranda’s sugar daddy shows up in the wee hours of the morning and the younger data she jilted back at the bar.

Gionfriddo’s carpentered play is nailed together with so many contrivances it defies credulity. Worse, the bulk of its 90-minutes is consumed with Miranda - and to a lesser extent Graham, too - dialoguing about the past, which does not make for much action. Thus, director Peter duBois pretty much plays traffic cop moving bodies in/out and around the fixed set. Ms Tamblyn of television notoriety is OK, and manages to elicit a few chuckles from the audience, but I’m not sure even a great actress with magical comic powers could do much with the part. Mr Pettie plays Graham unenthusiastically, which is at least accurate to Graham's attitude about life and his prospects in general. Ms Dershowitz’s role is particularly unappealing: I hope her whiny voice is part of Tanya's character. Stage veteran and Tony-winner Frank Wood shows up in the last 20 minutes as the sugar daddy and briefly introduces some life to the proceedings. In the end, everybody seems perhaps to be on their way to a less secure future, but there isn’t much dramatic or particularly amusing about this really blah situational melodramedy.

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