By David Walters
It’s a compelling story, touching on an artist’s relationship to their art and the fear of that relationship that is often only mitigated by a muse that gifts the power to transform technique from craft to art. It’s a story of blindly eradicating oneself from the pain of love by eliminating all of love. It’s the story of not comprehending one’s part in the horror a loved one commits. It’s the story of failing a loved one when they needed you the most. And it’s a story of cancel culture where the choice of art for art’s sake is dismissed as the story behind it is so horrific.
All compelling ideas.
Taking place on a black-box stage with a couple of pieces of furniture to designate locals, Sheila (Rachel Gatewood), a painter, and Mathias (Matt O’Shea), a dancer fall into a desperately dependent love where they become each other’s muse. This propagates a deep unhealthy psychological need of the other that encompasses their very beings. Their art is better for being together but at the cost of living.
The play Muse is being produced by The Greenhouse Ensemble, a very active production company in its tenth year that not only presents plays, but has their fingers in music, podcasts, promulgating actors and writers, and promoting the visual arts.
This could have been a riveting evening of theater touching on the psychology of art, human frailty and pain, need and relationship (lover to lover, parent to child, and child to parent), as the pieces are all there. Unfortunately, acting, lighting, set, writing, and directing did not fit together to form a complete cohesive picture. There were clumps that found their connection but as a whole weren’t able to link up and join one another in a semblance of story. I was intrigued by the subject matter and how the relationships hinged on those topics and that kept me attentive throughout. But there’s got to be something a little off if an announcement has to be made at intermission that the play isn’t over folks, please stay for the second half (and the second half was not really necessary to the story.).
As I said, all the pieces are there. I urge Greenhouse to continue honing their craft, but there are too many fabulous productions currently out there for me to recommend you spend your money and time on Muse.
Playing at The Tank (312 West 36th Street) until April 30th
With lighting design by Joshua Rusinov, costumes by Amanda Scanze, set by Pearl Gopalani, choreography by Ariel Polanco, and fight choreography by Gabriel Rosario. Even Helak is the Assistant Director, and Victoria Herda is the Stage Manager.
As always, this is just one person’s opinion in a world filled with them.