By Tulis McCall
In the PR for “I’m Revolting” by Gracie Gardner now at Atlantic Theater Company we are told that this play takes place in a skin cancer clinic in New York. Not the famous one. Well, I am not certain what “the famous one” is, but I am pretty sure that their waiting room is nothing like this.
In this waiting room the patients sit in one line. Never seen that. In addition the patients talk out loud to their partners. I mean loud. The only time I ever heard anyone talking loud in a waiting room was when they were speaking to someone hard of hearing. Not the case here. But the biggest red flag is that the staff occasionally comes out and discusses the various cases and the recommended procedures in front of everyone in the room. Eye surgery anyone? I am not medical expert but I THINK this violates every HIPPA rule on the planet. While they are busy violating HIPPA rules the surgeries these doctors perform seem to be happening in a parallel universe because these patients come and go as if through a revolving door.
This means that, straight out of the gate, we are looking at a credibility issue.
Which is too bad because the subject matter here is an overlooked big deal as is our medical system. I am guessing that Ms. Gardner had this in mind when she penned this play. But we need a hook, something to latch onto before we will soak up the facts. It is just how we human are wired. This is the element that is missing – the human one.
In “I’m Revolting” we are only given the barest of plot threads. Reggie (Alicia Pilgrim) is given two disturbing possibilities for her facial surgery and picks the one the doctors do not recommend. Liane (Emily Cass McDonnell)has a catastrophic determination presented (and she cannot stay overnight because this is a clinic not a hospital) and she ends up in pain and abandoned. Toby (Patrick Vail) must deal with his condition as well as a mother Paula (Laura Esterman)who believes in prayer bowls and meditation. Clyde (Peter Gerety) is just in for an oil change and tuneup as he is a regular. As to the two doctors, Denise (Patrice Johnson Chevannes) and Jonathan (Bartley Booz)we know little or nothing about them until the final scene where Gardner delivers a one-two punch that comes out of nowhere.
In the end, we are left with fragments of a well intended story that do not a story make.
One technical note: the only actors I could hear consistently were Booz and Gerety. For such a small house this makes no sense.
I’M REVOLTING by Gracie Gardner, Directed by Knud Adams
WITH Gabby Beans, Bartley Booz , Patrice Johnson Chevannes , Laura Esterman , Glenn Fitzgerald, Peter Gerety, Emily Cass McDonnell, Alicia Pilgrim, and Patrick Vaill.
At Atlantic Theater through October 16. TICKETS