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In Security

This visually striking show about a stressed-out surgeon needs better acting and writing to fully succeed.

By New York City
Anna Gutto in In Security
(© Giulia Piccari)
Anna Gutto in In Security
(© Giulia Piccari)
It's best to arrive early at In Security, now premiering at the 3LD Theater, since once inside the theater you're treated to the joys of a private playground of technological wonderment. A lone woman works at her desk, surrounded by a set that looks charmingly like it's been drawn in pencil. Toss in some nifty projected animations and a nearly indecipherable authoritative squawk coming over the PA system, and it feels like a Peanuts comic strip has come to life.

So it's too bad that when the play actually begins, it all feels a lot more like Cathy, the once-popular comic strip about a mundane ball of modern mediocrity treading water in a sea of men, parents, and work. As with Cathy, the problem with In Security isn't so much that the subject matter is trite, but that the main character's reactions don't inspire laughter or empathy as much as a half-hearted shrug.

The simple plot finds a surgeon named Lona (Anna Gutto, who also wrote the script), alone and stressed out the night before her wedding. Barricaded in her hospital office, she interacts with the people in her life -- including parents (Erik Parillo and Kathleen Turco-Lyon), assistant (Carmen Chaplin), slutty best friend (Stephanie Davis), and angelic fiancé (Lawrence Ballard) -- over the telephone.

Visually, these interactions are terrific. The pre-recorded projected images (created by co-conceiver Ann Oren) appear as windows to the outside world. But, while we're meant to realize the gap between Lona and these people, the bigger issue is that the people on the other end of the phone are much more interesting. Part of this is because the off-stage performers are simply more solid actors than Gutto. And the theater's acoustics don't help the situation. (Gutto is unmiked and her voice registers less clearly and with less presence than the recordings.)

But ultimately, the major problem with In Security is that the writing is underdeveloped. A late attempt at providing some specifics seems like it came from the romantic comedy crisis kit, filling in the blank marked "provide quirky details about why you love this person now." Moreover, the show's aesthetic never blends with the material. If the creators are going for a comic strip feeling, the interactions need to be shorter, faster, and funnier. If they're going for meta-commentary, it all needs to be bolder -- and frankly weirder -- than the somewhat dull little slice-of-life libretto scored by some very talented visual composers that emerges onstage.


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