By Sarah Downs
Inescapable is an odd little show. It starts anywhere (or no-where) and ends in a different, equally ambiguous anywhere, from which there is, as the title suggests, no escape. Welcome to the trippy world of Oscar Madison and Felix Unger, if The Odd Couple had been written by Samuel Beckett.
Two friends, Martin Dockery and Jon Paterson, have ‘escaped’ to the kitchen from the party Dockery and his wife are throwing. There they ponder the function of an imaginary device Paterson has found and which they eventually imbue with near magical powers. Is it a time machine? Is it a barrier? Is it a trap?
As they go over the same terrain repeatedly with small variations in dialogue, the pair find themselves traveling down side roads of parallel meaning. They embark on a journey of mid-life crisis that has no resolution. Then again, does mid-life crisis ever have any resolution other than the passage of time and memory?
In this circular discussion of days of the future passed, Dockery finds himself growing more and more anxious. He is the more emotional of the two men – the uptight “man” to Paterson’s laid back “dude.” Paterson’s revelations have turned up the heat under Dockery’s paranoia. He concludes that love is evil. Alas, the progression of short term memory loss that now haunts the two won’t save them, because, as Dockery says, feelings travel back in time with you. The only way backward is forward, but which way is forward? The point of reference moves continually.
Inescapable is diverting and well performed but fails to take us anywhere. In its brevity it feels more like an exercise than a finished product. Paterson and Dockery give it all they’ve got, keeping the energy going with fast paced dialogue and clear focus. They do build to one emotional moment. It is a much welcome pause. You think maybe the silence will restart the engine but drive the piece in a different direction. Alas, we just go back to the beginning, with no reprieve. Twelve rounds, no decision.
Inescapable, written by Martin Dockery, directed by Vanessa Quesnelle,
WITH Martin Dockery and Jon Paterson
Presented by the by the Concrete Drops Theatre Company, at the SoHo Playhouse (15 Van Dam Street); November 20, 24, 25, 27, 28, 29 and 30; all shows 7:00 pm. Tickets are $39/$25 and can be purchased at SoHo Playhouse.com or 212-691-1555 or by visiting www.fringeencores.org. Runtime: 45 minutes, no intermission.