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NY Theater Reviews

GIBBERISH ON DISPLAY

By SANDY MACDONALD

In her latest outing for the Women's Expressive Theatre, playwright Brooke Berman trots out some tired types.

There's something so off-kilter about Brooke Berman's dialogue for A Perfect Couple that at times it sounds like one of the milder Sex and the City episodes, only the Latvian version, awkwardly translated.
How much sympathy can we be expected to have for a 39-year-old bride-to-be, Amy (compulsively finger-pointing Dana Eskelson) who hectors her best friend, alt-artsy Emma (Annie McNamara), about the absolute necessity of likewise corralling a man? We ought to have some, else there's little pity to spare when Amy discovers that Emma may have already found one: Amy's own brow-beaten intended, Isaac (James Waterston, given little to do in a cipher of a role).
The one character who doesn't come across like a wind-up toy is 23-year-old Josh (Elan Moss-Bachrach), a recent Bard grad who is helping Isaac to fix up the upstate New York country house he recently inherited, where the presumably happy couple plan to set up housekeeping and start reproducing.
Their idyllic dasha has a bit of a ghost: Isaac's late stepmother Coral, who left behind a diary, which Amy not only proprietarily reads, but reads into. The mishegas that Amy concocts over Coral's report of a visit that Emma and Isaac made some years ago, sans Amy, seems spun from thin air &ndash as, indeed, does the play as a whole. It is only tentatively anchored in reality by Neil Patel's minimalist set, like a child's-view sketch of a house, upon which precious scene surtitles are projected.
Josh is the only one worth listening to, whether he's musing on the nature of infinity (which he finds comforting) or chipping in on the challenges of love (Relationships are hard, man, he commiserates with Amy). His at least is a fresh perspective, and he can even boast a bit of insight, noting, for instance, that his own pattern to set women up to be crazy&ndash and then they are.
It's a real flaw of the production, listlessly directed by Maria Mileaf , that there doesn't appear to be a full generation's gap between Josh and his elders: as cast, they all look like contemporaries. But since all the characters, even cute Josh, appear to be mere constructs, ultimately it doesn't much matter.