Joe Tippett and Betty Gilpin in Fish Eye
(© Adrienne Campbell-Holt)
Joe Tippett and Betty Gilpin in Fish Eye
(© Adrienne Campbell-Holt)
Lucas Kavner's one-act play, Fish Eye, now at HERE Arts Center, spans the life of a relationship between a couple of twenty-somethings from a chance encounter to the final goodbye. It's well-trod territory, for sure, but Kavner proves he has something to add to the modern romance canon, writing concise and insightful dialogue that effortlessly flows from scene to scene as it amuses.

Told in random order, we see fragments of moments in the lives of Max (Joe Tippett) and Anna (Betty Gilpin) as they might remember them, musing about the past years later. We get just enough of one conversation before another pops up without warning. This can be a little disorienting at first, but once you trust that Kavner and director Adrienne Campbell-Holt know where they're going, there's great joy in listening to how the words bleed into each other.over the next 75 minutes.

Kavner lets us get to know Max, Anna, and their friends Avery (Katya Campbell) and Jay (Ato Essandoh) through the smallest of details. When Anna first kisses Max at his apartment she makes a point not to take off her winter coat -- because in her reasoning: if she takes of her coat, she will sleep with him. Like us, he's amused by this logic and begins to fall in love with her.

As the relationship progresses, she tries to build his confidence and make him see his worth at his office job as well as potential as a songwriter, while he encourages her to get back to her filmmaking roots, something he will later regret. It slowly becomes apparent that while he puts her first in his life, she puts her career above him. Overall, though, there isn't a lot of the typical drama that surrounds breakups on stage, just two people who fall apart from each other.

There are, of course, some messy entanglements between Max and his friend, Avery, a nanny-turned-waitress, and Anna and her ex-boyfriend-turned-friend, Jay, who travels around the world working for an influential environmental company. These never threaten to take the spotlight from the main story, but rather illuminate it with different perspectives.

Ultimately, like the best relationships, when we get to the end of the play we know it's the final moment, but still we hold on for more.