Reviewed By Jara Jones
What happens when a Massachusetts couple (Allison and Daniel, dating for six months), are faced with the unexpected news that Daniel’s been offered an immediate screenwriting job in Los Angeles? Do the two of them choose to accelerate their relationship, uproot their lives, and move in together? Is it possible to keep the playful, caring love they feel?
Fusion has a masterful pedigree; Brian Dudkiewicz’s set is inviting and carefully crafted. He’s made that black box feel like a genuine home, combining his gift of layered, compassionate space with Jared M Silver’s detailed props, illuminating and complementing Allison’s life. Katie Honaker’s lovely direction celebrates that technical playing field, adding natural, sometimes microscopic touches to keep the characters kinetic and connected.
The acting in the production is a treat. I’d watch a whole play devoted to just lead actress Madeleine Maby. Her work as Allison is engaging and generous. She drives the soul of the play; every minute reaction, every vulnerable act is a joy. She pushes Charlie Wilson (Daniel) to come to her level, and for a good portion of the production, their mutual gifts rise above the text.
Adam Parrish’s script, unfortunately, does not fully support the crafted roles of cast and crew. A play with three-dimensional issues is hampered by the playwright’s limited point of view. There’s a poignant line Allison delivers in the final scene: “I don’t want a little boy’s answer”. And I’m with her. I don’t want anymore “little boy romantic comedies”, where we’re just supposed to buy into the fact that Allison loves Daniel, despite his many displayed flaws and on-again off-again commitment to love, and that, through informed ability only (not through action on stage) we need to take it on faith that that Daniel Goodman is a good man.
It has become harder and harder to fully invest in romantic comedies where a woman plays the role of the pseudo-mother, endlessly forgiving, able to soothe the man at the cost of her own aspirations. We get too little information about Allison, an independent, strong- willed chef to the Cambridge, MA elite. We don’t truly discover why she’s connected to a man she just can’t quit and what all that we witness means to her.
The wit and banter between Allison and Daniel are by far the best parts the play. I truly wish that those heartfelt genuine moments outweighed the tropes and gimmicks so often seen in romantic comedy of today. Ultimately, Fusion has a dynamic and extremely dedicated ensemble, and the chemistry between Maby and Wilson is compelling. Come see the show alone for how the two of them take all the show’s flaws and still deliver a memorable evening.
Fusion is produced by A 7th Sign Production and runs until October 14th at The Actors Theatre Workshop (145 West 28th St, 3rd Floor)