By Tulis McCall

I am going to say something I have never said in a review.

Ditch the first act.

Or at least pare it down to  a few freeze frame scenes. Include the last bit as that was a treat.

Here is how this shakes out.  The first scene with Helen (Jayne Atkinson) and Mark (Tim Daly) is a struggle to watch because it is a boring hotel lounge conversation that two people might have if they were former lovers who still had an itch for one another after 30 years.  “How is your work?” “Tell me about your children.”  “Are you … um… seeing anyone?” The painfully self conscious moments that we have all had.  On stage, however, they need a little extra something – an intention, a distraction, a something or other – or else the scene pretty much flatlines.  Kind of like this first act did.

The SECOND scene however, lets the horse out of the barn and they head out for parts unknown.  This scene, in Mark’s hotel room, where you-know-what has taken place, blows the lid off the story.  Lia Romeo does not let us sit on our laurels and watch the story we expect.  Oh no.  She leads us down the primrose path and pulls the proverbial rug out from under us.  Coincidentally she does the same thing to Mark and  Helen.  That is called excellent writing, and it is delicious to watch as well as to experience.

In this second scene these two actors have a chance to use their chops and sink their teeth into s convoluted and meaty story line.  It is chock-a-block full of hairpin turns, surprises and emotional danger.  That these two characters love one another is a given.  The philosophies that guide each of their lives, however, are, as the saying goes, “Complicated”. The question becomes not just how to love someone – they have that handled – but how to love someone who does not toe the line that YOU know is the right one?

Romeo raises the question with no agenda.  A brilliant move.  Rather than answer it she leaves these two characters on the brink of a decision, and leaves us to sort it out for ourselves.  The end.

Indeed.  This scene is relevant and personal to everyone in the audience.  In this time of political divisiveness, many of us – myself included – have ended contact with people who support what ever the Hell is going on in the Republican Party, believe that we are not complicit in the lack of communication.  Romeo gives us a gentle nudge to remind us that we are.  We,  too,  have thrown the baby out with the bathwater. Ouch.

Like I said, it is a terrific second scene.  If we didn’t have to sit through the first one, it would be even better.

STILL by Lia Romeo. Directed by Adrienne Campbell-Holt 

WITH  Jayne Atkinson and Tim Daly 

STILL features scenic design by Alexander Woodward; costume design by Barbara A. Bell; lighting design by Reza Behjat; sound design by Hidenori Nakajo; and production stage manager Caren Celine Morris. 

STILL  through – May 23, 2024 with an official press opening on April 18 at DR2 Theatre (103 East 15th Street), just off Union Square. After Opening, the performance schedule is Tuesdays-Fridays at 7pm, Saturdays at 8pm, and Wednesday matinees at 1pm. Running time is approximately 75 minutes. 

Tickets begin at $26 and are on sale now at www.telecharge.com and 212-239-6200. Ten $10 tickets will be available for each performance in April while supplies last. Student and Artist Tickets available for a discount in-person at the box office only with valid ID.