Monday, August 23, 2010

FRINGE: Together This Time

Together This Time is like a City of Angels for literature instead of film. Scenes are split between a novelist's life and the characters in his novel, sometimes overlapping. There is a fundamental problem, though, that makes it impossible for the show to work. The story our protagonist is writing sounds so dumb that I cannot imagine why anyone would want to read it.

Jay Allen Jones (Jonathan Whitton) was a successful writer in New York City, but he moved to Colorado to get away from it all. He has spent the last four years working on a novel about two 18-year-olds in love, Jamie Gower (Andrew Redlawsk) and Gillian Wilder (Emily Olson). His girlfriend and editor Emily (Tro Shaw) wants to move back to the city, so she leaves him, and he follows her, winning her back through his novel. Emily is apparently an in-demand editor (as we learn through the song "Can You Help Me With My Book?") and Jay is a critical darling, so why would they be spending all their time on a book where nothing much happens except that Jamie and Emily leave home to start a life together and then come back home but this time it will be different because they will be in their own apartment.

The rock score by Andrew Heyman is repetitive, but at least it's performed by a live and very capable band. The lyrics by Heyman and Zac Kline (who also wrote the book) sometimes offer a spark of what this show could have been, such as when Emily sings about falling in love with Phillip Roth at the age of 12. The actors all seem to be directed by Troy Miller to clutch their chests and fists as if every song is a life or death situation, which would be distracting in any case, but seems especially out of place when the stakes really aren't that high.

Remaining performances are Mon 23 at 1 and Thu 26 at 4:30 at the Lucille Lortel Theatre.

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