BY NATALIE ALLEN
Reach by Ryan Sprague, struck me as a piece designed to magnify the power of grief and failure and the devastating effects they can have on a person’s life, however, I could not relate to the characters on stage and therefore: didn’t care. A story of two hapless ex-lovers reunited by the stubborn efforts of Jordan (Christo Grabowski) to rekindle a seemingly hopeless relationship with Lindsey (Emily Tuckman) seems to boil down to an hour long tug-of-war devoid of laughter.
The two act play begins with an empty apartment full of a mess of plants, books and a small table. Lindsey, played by the severe Emily Tuckman, is a grieving widow to a public service hero, Connor, who was killed while saving a child during a Hurricane. Jordan (Grabowski) shows up at her door, unannounced, and then makes it his duty to win back the love that the two shared years ago before Jordan left Lindsey for another woman, who it is later revealed, has left him.
Jordan spends the whole play trying to win Lindsey over and Lindsey feels a fierce need to not let him. I would have enjoyed the piece more had Lindsey been more of a person I could have liked. I found her peevish and annoying and wondered why on earth Jordan put up with the super-soaker moments of Lindsey angrily spitting and splashing water in his face in an effort to get him to leave.
In the second act, after a night of passion (wait… how did that happen? I thought Lindsey hated Jordan?) Jordan has completely changed the apartment and decided to make Lindsey’s life more comfortable. More arguing ensues. Where was the empathy? Why did Jordan seem to hate himself so much that he needed to stick around and get abused by Lindsey? The one note flavor of the play was leaving a bad taste in my mouth and I wished I could have seen more redeeming qualities from the two on stage. Banter? Laughter? Moments of love? Sadness? I felt like I was watching every shade of anger and frustration that could exist, leaving me exhausted.
I do like the exploration of grief and the effects it can have on a person’s mental health. Reach does explore the possibilities of second chances, and hope in seemingly hopeless situations. I wish I could have seen more of a human side to both characters, moments when the personalities of the two can shine through the clouds of despair and make me relate to them more. The performances of Tuckman and Grabowski were dedicated and energetic, to say the least, however an hour long knock-down drag-out fight about why man and woman should be together in this seemingly hopeless situation, is exhausting and after ten minutes I didn’t care.
REACH By: Ryan Sprague; Directed by: Jennifer Sandella.
WITH: Emily Tuckman (Lindsey) and Christo Grabowski (Jordan)
Produced by: Emily Tuckman; Lighting and Sound by: Peter Bell; Stage Manager: Sarah McDaniel Dyer.
Part of the Dream Up Festival, playing at the Theatre for the New City (1st Ave and 10th Street) August 31st- September 6th. Showtimes: 9/1 @8pm; 9/3 @ 6:30pm; 9/4 @9pm; 9/6 @6:30pm. Tickets are $15 at the door.