Matthew Reddin

Youngblood corrects ‘[sic]’s’ textual weaknesses

Strong character development and an emphasis on the play's humor save an occasionally confusing script.

By - Sep 21st, 2012 01:47 pm
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Matt Koester (L), Tess Cinpinski and Benjamin James Wilson play three “urban failures” whose efforts to achieve their dreams are stuck in freefall. Photo credit Ross Zentner.

[sic]is not for everyone. It’s oddly structured, frequently obtuse and often lacking any discernible direction.

All that being said, get to Bucketworks, because Youngblood is doing wonderful things with it.

Melissa James Gibson’s play is about three post-post-graduates in their late-20s/early-30s: Babette (Tess Cinpinski), Theo (Matt Koester) and Frank (Benjamin James Wilson) are trying to achieve their personal dreams. They play out in a collection of scenes that blend into each other without clear separation, in dialogue simultaneously poetic and the-way-people-really-talk. The combination of abnormal structure and dialogue can be occasionally maddening, and I’m still not sure if [sic] is a good play as-written.

As-performed is another matter. The actors embrace the play’s oddities. They make verbal and physical tics seem organic and not gimmicks. Watching them interact, bicker, gossip and spy on neighbors (James Boylan and Anna Figlesthaler, behind a scrim) in their apartment complex is a delight, even if their lives do become increasingly pathetic.

Each of them has an obsession. Babette’s an unfinished/unwritten magnum opus about occasionally imagined history. Theo’s a “symphony” he’s trying to compose for a theme park roller coaster. Frank wants a new career as an auctioneer. These dreams might be the impetus of the play, but they don’t amount to plot lines. They’re also almost incidental.

What [sic] has instead are moments. Lots and lots of moments. Moments that alarm. Moments that charm. Moments that make you laugh and moments that make you scratch your head in confusion.

While the play centers on only three seen characters (Tess Cinpinski pictured as Babette), unseen characters including the Airshaft Couple impact several of the play’s “moments.” Photo credit Ross Zentner.

The play is about character, not plot, and the cast delves deep into character in these moments. [sic] has good characters. Babette is a compulsive liar who Hulks out on a regular basis; Cinpinski keeps her just this side of sympathetic. Koester takes a character written creepy and keeps him creepy – but a little broken, too. And Wilson particularly shines as Frank, stalking around the complex in a huff and rattling off tongue twisters as if his life depended on it.

That’s the upside of [sic]. The downside: The moments blow past at a rapid-fire pace that makes it hard to pick up on little details, or occasionally big ones. For most of [sic], you’re uncertain exactly what’s going on.

However, humor trumps confusion. In synopsis, the play doesn’t sound funny, but it is, and humor drove director Jason Economus’ interpretation. Good call: [sic] entertains all the way through, as laughter patches over weaknesses in the script and structure and keeps the mood from turning too dark.

The best way to describe [sic] might be with the word “sic” itself, an academic term used to indicate an intentional error, a way of saying “the mistake is not mine.” The errors in [sic] are not Youngblood’s. In fact, it’s what Youngblood does with those mistakes that makes the show so enjoyable. Unlike their characters, they acknowledge them. Only then can they achieve what they’ve been dreaming of.

[sic] runs through Oct. 5 at Bucketworks, 706 S. Fifth St. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased online or at the door.

Don’t miss anything! Bookmark Matthew Reddin’s comprehensive TCD Guide to the 2012-13 Season. Sponsored by the Florentine Opera.

0 thoughts on “Youngblood corrects ‘[sic]’s’ textual weaknesses”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the write-up!

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