How well do we know our friends and how often do we take them for granted? These question permeate Sheldon Bull’s new play, Mallorca. In a day where romance takes center stage, it is nice to see a play that explores the, often overlooked, enduring power of true fellowship.
Three very different men are brought together by the overbearing, needy Julius. Julius is a pain but somehow he has managed to befriend three “chums” and gathers them all at one of the mates’ (Stan) apartment. As each guest arrives we see that the others have misguided thoughts about who their peers really are. The guise is they are all going to a Basketball game. But when Julius, the last one to arrive, shows up he’s his usual neurotic mess. Julius reveals that he will not be going to the game, but hopping on a plane to the island of Mallorca off the coast of Spain. His reason for the journey: to find himself. The second act deals with the repercussions of Julius’ actions and the effects it has on the other men.
The cast is well-rounded and each actor delivers in their own right. L.J. Ganser is commendable as the sardonic Stan. His metamorphosis by the end of the play is beautiful to watch. Brian Russell is good as the uptight and nervous Leo. He brings high energy and urgency to his scenes which adds to the “need” of this story to be told. Steven Hauck provides some great comic relief as the aloof and eccentric Arthur. And Rory Scholl is every bit as high-strung, yet loveable as Julius. Scholl is mesmerizing on stage and his journey throughout the play feels very real. Lisa Riegel, the only female in the cast, doesn’t appear unto act two but is equally connected as Roberta.
Bull has a touching play that pulls at your heart strings. My only issue is that the “revelatory” action of act two seems a bit too convenient. It’s like a domino effect; once one character unloads an issue that the others don’t know about, everyone all of a sudden is opening up. It comes off as contrived and forced, instead of organic sharing among friends. We wish that this payoff felt more earned and natural, instead of a device in a play.
But that aside, the play is thoroughly enjoyable. There’s a lot of good stuff happening. It’s exciting to see Abingdon Theatre Company breathe life into this play. Director, Donald Brenner understands this piece and directs it with heart and sensitivity, which is much needed in this production. The simple set, designed by Brian Dudkiewicz is exquisite. He exploits every inch of the small theater and makes it feel like there’s more room than there actually is.
I believe this play is necessary. As alluded to earlier, our society hypes up romantic relationships so much, that we forget its often friendship that gets us through the really tough times. Romance can be fleeting, but a true friend never goes away. Isn’t it time we celebrated that for a change?
Mallorca plays now through June 21st at the Dorothy Streslin Theater at Abinggdon Theater Company, 312 W 36th St. http://www.abingdontheatre.org