If There Is I Haven't Found It Yet: Jake Gyllenhaal's Off B'way debut
Oscar E. Moore “from the rear mezzanine” for Talk Entertainment.com
I suppose with all of the revivals being produced on and off Broadway this season we should be grateful for anything original, especially if it includes the American stage debut of Mr. Jake Gyllenhaal – who is terrific by the by.
IF THERE IS I HAVEN’T FOUND IT YET written by Nick Payne is an import from across the pond. This production designed by Beowulf Boritt with pull-all-the-stops-out- overboard direction by Michael Longhurst includes the pond which lines the foot of the stage at the Roundabout Laura Pels where, when we enter it is raining heavily with a clump of furniture piled high center stage including a tub. Pieces when used are discarded in the moat by each of the four characters.
Is there a way out of this mess? precedes the title and I was wondering the same during the 90 minutes or so drama without intermission, as it comes across a tad pretentious and one of the newest examples of the Theatre of The Absurd.
Here’s the lowdown: The glum and morose Anna (Anne Funke) is being bullied and beaten up at school. Her only friend is a bag of chips. She is, needless to say, overweight and has been suspended because of an altercation. Her frustrated mother Fiona (Michelle Gomez) teaches drama at the school (as if she doesn’t have enough at home) and is disliked. Fiona’s unseen mum on the phone is suffering from dementia and calls often. Husband George (Brian F. O’Byrne) is more interested in Global Warming and Carbon Footprints (he’s writing a lengthy tome about such) than his wife or daughter.
Enter the star – a big fish is a little pond - Jake Gyllenhaal as Terry, unlikely pot smoking brother of George who unexpectedly arrives supposedly trying to reconnect with the unseen Rachael. He is a charming vagrant with a foul mouth full of obscenities and a ton of idiosyncrasies which include a jumpy leg and a tendency to pull up his trousers in rap gangsta style. He wants to help Anna and they form an unusual bond.
In a series of quick cinematic scenes this all unravels. You’ll know when the end is near when most of the furniture is floating. Are we all doomed? Are we worth saving? Is Global Warming responsible for not being able to understand a lot of dialogue due to the accents and lack of projection especially Anna with her hanky covering her bloody nose and soft spoken sullen approach?
Natasha Katz has done another fine job with her lighting which I hope is well grounded.
By play’s end it’s “water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink” which was my cue to head home for a stiff one. Through November 25th.
Photo: Joan Marcus