Reviewed by Leonard Jacobs
Transforming the travails of pouty, spoiled brat characters into a compelling theatre of veracity is the challenge facing Blue Sphere East's production of Steven Dietz's "Trust." The play is flawed—its six characters are so obnoxiously self-indulgent that even the finest production wouldn't render this challenge achievable—but the production complicates matters, too.
First, director Cynthia Croot hardly makes it easy on the ensemble. She's staged "Trust" partly on David Barber's interesting, living room/kitchen combination set. Unfortunately, that set occupies only 25% of the playing area, upstage left, the second-weakest spot on stage. Up right, where the majority of scenes occur, stands empty but for occasional, portable set pieces, even as other characters remain on the combination set, marking time on a couch or chair. Croot so under-utilizes the uncommonly deep playing area, the action might just as well occur in some other venue. If co-artistic directors Kim Tobin, Robert Harriel, and Christian Campbell want an audience's mind—if not their heart—this weird, neo-Brechtian architectural alienation should go.
The result is that it's maddening to assess the performances. Harriel plays Cody, a gosh-darn, gee-whiz rock star, whose engagement threatens to leave nubile legions distressed and distraught. This catalyzes the action, including Cody's relationship with Leah, a "down on her luck legend," played for full-throated, chain-smoking sardonics by Tobin.
Even in the most intimate setting, who cares about moderately successful, moderately well-off people moaning about their tragedies du jour? When we're wallflowers at someone else's mating dance, this is especially impossible. Voyeurism, a smart theatrical device for which this production may be reaching, never felt so remote.
Elizabeth Lambert as Gretchen, Sara Wolverson as Becca, Catherine Zambri as Holly, and Spender Aste as Roy do yeoman's service on this ship sailing by, and Marcus Ropy does a particularly standout job illuminating the disjointed, petulant landscape.