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A Picasso

Snake in Fridge

By New York City
Matthew J. Nichols and Christian Felix in Snake in Fridge

(Photo © Michael Wakefield)
Matthew J. Nichols and Christian Felix
in Snake in Fridge
(Photo © Michael Wakefield)
Brad Fraser's Snake in Fridge contains a number of provocative ingredients -- murder, strippers, drug dealing, nude wrestling, a stalker, Internet porn, a haunted house -- yet the piece falls flat due to its inane dialogue, its meandering plot, and its collection of unsympathetic, unlikeable characters.

The play concerns a racially diverse group of twenty-somethings who share a house somewhere in Canada. It's the family home of Corbett (Matthew J. Nichols), a drug-addicted male stripper who wants to make, borrow, or steal enough money for a penis enlargement operation. His best friend, Travis (Christian Felix), works as a busboy but is continually passed over for promotion to waiter. Their housemates include two sisters: Caddie (Sarah K. Lippmann), who works as a stripper, and Donna (Susan O'Connor), who has been mentally challenged since her clinical death and subsequent revival. Randy (Gabriel Grilli) also resides in the house and brings in his girlfriend Stacey (Angela Ai), who finds herself fantasizing about sex with Caddie. The group's combined income barely covers the rent, especially since Corbett keeps spending the money on drugs. His older cousin, Violet (Mimi Bilinski), is the actual owner of the house; she insists that Corbett come up with the three months' back rent owed to her or she'll kick them all out.

Violet is, in fact, a presence in several of the housemates' lives. She owns the club where Caddie works and has recently made Randy her assistant/boy toy. She wants to start up a live Internet porn venture and so she makes Randy, Stacey, and Caddie a tempting offer to kick things off with a bang -- in a way that would potentially destroy Randy and Stacey's relationship. Added in to the mix is Corbett's drug dealer, Gabriel (Patrick Fellows), who has a crush on his client; and Charles (Sean Baldwin), an older male who follows Caddie home one day and then rents the one available room left in the house.

Director Blake Lawrence is unable to establish the appropriate tone for the play. It may be meant as a comedy, but most of the jokes don't land; it's too ludicrous to be taken seriously as a thriller, and as a drama it lacks both coherence and a compelling narrative. The characters are all woefully underdeveloped despite their shocking revelations in regard to sexual abuse, incest, suicidal mothers, and other traumas.

The play is divided into short scenes that unfold in a number of different locales; Jennifer Varbalow's set design suggests these places through the use of various door frames and a few pieces of furniture. Center stage is a refrigerator in which the snake of the play's title is initially put. (Don't ask!) Carrie Wood's lighting illuminates the action but doesn't do much in terms of setting the mood or distinguishing one location from another. Stuart S. Dance's sound design is likewise lacking, particularly in terms of a loud thumping that should emanate from the refrigerator in a menacing manner but instead sounds quite ridiculous.

Snake in Fridge lacks momentum, and its plodding pace makes the nearly two-and-a-half hour play seem interminable. The plot twists often are too melodramatic to be believable, and the audience is never made to care about any of the characters. The resolution of the plot -- if you can call it that -- is thoroughly unsatisfying, but then, so is much that precedes it. The actors shouldn't be entirely blamed for their lackluster work here, as there's only so much they could potentially do with this play.


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