Monday, April 20, 2015

Applause! Applause! Review of Moonlight After Midnight at The Kraine Theater by Dr. Thomas Robert Stevens

This review of Moonlight After Midnight at The Kraine Theater was written by Dr. Thomas Robert Stevens and published in Volume X, Issue 5 (2015) of the online edition of Applause! Applause!

Moonlight After Midnight
Written by Martin Dockery
Dramaturgy by Vanessa Quesnelle
Performed by Martin Dockery & Vanessa Quesnelle
The Kraine Theater (85 East 4th Street, NYC)
Reviewed 4/17/15 at 8:00 p.m. 

It is hard to know anything for sure in Martin Dockery's Moonlight After Midnight as versions of the Guy In A Room and Girl At A Wedding play out fictitious scenarios that may or may not tell you anything about their past relationship. The play opens with a guy sitting in a chair in a hotel room looking out the window tracking a comet on a 10-year trajectory around the sun after which it will return on the same day and time before finally flying out into the universe never to be seen again. Despite the scientific unlikeliness of this fact, it is the hand we are dealt as the universe in which this meeting between the guy and girl takes place. The woman enters the room and appears to recognize the guy sitting in the chair but he tells her not to look at him, not to mention his wife, and not to say anything about how she misses him. The guy starts to ask the woman to play-act various scenes in which she enters and re-enters the room, sometimes posing as an escort he allegedly hired, sometimes acting as a woman who is attending a wedding who just happens to wander into his room and sometimes as his wife, although he refuses to kiss her. I personally had no clue why he was acting in this manner or what he wanted, and after a certain point, I didn't care. The whole process of watching a sub-script within a sub-script within a script was exhausting and it failed to provide any additional insight into the characters or what the various scenarios were supposed to reveal.

The facts I could ascertain were that these two individuals were once very much in love. They may have met in this hotel room when the comet was first seen. The girl was probably attending a wedding and did accidentally wander into his room, where they talked and fell in love. The guy told the girl then that he would be back exactly 10 years later to see the comet before it flew out into the universe. Three years later they married but he disappeared from their wedding reception and went back to their room claiming he was tired and lying about having a good time. By morning, he disappeared without a clue never to be seen again. Maybe love is as fleeting as the momentary presence of a comet. The girl remarried but on the 1oth year anniversary of the comet coming back around one last time, she made an excuse to leave her husband and two kids and to book that very same hotel room in the hope her ex-husband would be there and that she could finally obtain closure by finding out why he left her. The non-existent, imaginary guy in the room suggests that perhaps one explanation is that he went swimming and drowned but that doesn't really supply any answer the girl hadn't thought of as a possibility herself. So the play ends with the girl sitting in the chair looking at the comet flying out into space.

The writing isn't crisp or clear and there are very few memorable lines. My favorite was an exchange that took place when the guy revealed he used tape on the window to follow the trajectory of the comet. The girl says in response, "You're not exactly NASA", to which the guy says, "I have a smaller budget." The name of the play comes from an observation the girl makes when looking out the window to see the comet that was positioned somewhere near the moon. She says, "This is what you see when you look out at the moon after midnight." The bright star in Moon After Midnight is Vanessa Quesnelle, who is an extraordinarily talented actor and singer. In the production, she sings portions of three Patsy Cline songs, Walking After Midnight, Crazy & I Fall To Pieces, a cappella. However, her charismatic stage presence and good looks are not enough to save this play, that has no edge, no substantive revelations and a writing style that seems to reflect the main male character's motto to just Go With The Flow! Unfortunately, that flow takes the audience to a place they'd rather not go.

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