Reviewed by Esther Tolkoff
Presented at the Henry Street Settlement's Harry De Jur Theatre, 466 Grand St., NYC, August 16-26.
This quasi-realistic depiction of a young woman's struggle with narcolepsy, depression, and the emotional paralysis of perfectionism is at its best when it deals directly with that struggle. Cypress (Courtney Munch) is the most consistently believable character, but then, this is her story, and her pained view of the world.
The other characters all float in and out of Cypress' consciousness. There are Blue (playwright/director Katie Rubin), a caretaker sent by Cypress' father; Shalie (Stacie Ponder), a co-worker and delivery woman; Dee (Denise Willbanks), their boss; Candy (Kimmarie Lynch) Shalie's caretaker, and Disco Dan (Lynch), Shalie's husband. There's also Angelique, God's messenger (Willbank), who speaks through Cypress' hat rack. It's not always easy to tell who is who. All are somewhat symbolic. Is Blue "real?" The synopsis indicates she's an "alter ego" urging Cypress out of her lethargy, but it's not clear from the play itself.
Cypress' narcoleptic attacks keep her from getting to her clerical job and functioning there. She stays in her room, brooding, talking to the hat rack, brightening up only when she dreams of being a talk show host. Co-worker Shalie longs to become a botanist, but is struggling in her make-do job and with her overbearing husband. Not all is despair, however. The brighter side of life—seeing these dreams realized; the value of positive thinking—is also conveyed.
The actors create believable characters and make each individual "moment" ring true. And it's clear that this is not meant to be a "realistic" expression of the messages expressed. Even so, the play falls just shy of coming together. This is frustrating, as it almost makes it. In the end, however, it's a tad too "symbolic." The characters and plot make a few too many abrupt leaps.
The play was performed on a large stage. It might be better suited to a "black box" setting.