- CHARITY BENEFIT
British humor and writing falls off the planet in Nick Payne’s If There Is I Haven’t Found It Yet. The play is hard to understand and OMG it’s another dysfunctional family play where the daughter 15-year-old Anna (an expressive Annie Funke), is overweight, friendless, bullied and suicidal. Her mother, Fiona (Michelle Gomez), is unhappy in her sexless, non-communicative marriage as her husband (Brian F. O’Byrne), cares more about the carbon-footprint, as he stutters through life unable to see the loneliness and desperation happening all around him. Enter the spark of life to this boring play, George’s drifter brother, Terry ( the breath of fresh air, the unassuming Jake Gyllenhaal). He sees inside Anna’s isolation and crudely relates to her as he builds up her confidence. She in turn takes all his caring for sexual attraction. His bolstering for himself to cure his pain includes a beer and a joint.
Funke is a terrific find as she bares her emotions in a raw and natural ineffectiveness. Gyllenhaal has a rare star quality that makes you love him despite the character‘s flaws. He brings to the stage warmth and when he and Funke are together, there is a spark. Gyllenhaal keeps our attention because every tick and nuance is seen. He is never silent even when he is not speaking. His movements speak volumes.
Both Gomez and O’Byrne (Doubt, The Coast of Utopia) are hard to understand and O’Bryne is normally so prolific.
Michael Longhurst’s direction is just too much and as inventive as Beowulf Boritt’s set is, it made no sense. During the beginning it is raining and then like Noah’s Ark the whole stage is swallowed up in water as Anna tries to kill herself. The set pieces are piled up like a garage sale and actors get to retrieve pieces as needed and then discard them in the water. All I could think of was how the hell do they clean up this mess on matinee days. The title, like the play, leaves your mind floundering, adrift in dysfunction.
If There Is I Haven’t Found It Yet: Laura Pels Theatre Roundabout Theatre Company until Nov. 25th