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FringeNYC 2008: Roundup #2
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FringeNYC 2008: Roundup #3

All the Rage

The New York premiere of Keith Reddin's quirky play has some excellent performances but an ultimately uneven production.

By New York City
Anne Bobby and Greg Stuhr
in All the Rage
(© Benjamin Jaeger-Thomas)
Anne Bobby and Greg Stuhr
in All the Rage
(© Benjamin Jaeger-Thomas)
Keith Reddin's All the Rage, making its New York premiere at Manhattan Theatre Source, has the kind of off-kilter characterizations that actors often relish. In Daryl Boling's uneven production, however, not all of the players are able to make the most out of the material they're given.

The show starts out as a murder mystery, with Warren (Greg Stuhr) standing over a dead body, gun in hand, and blood on his robe. While this should be an open and shut case, Warren maintains it was an accident and detectives Tyler (Steve Deighan) and Agee (Medina Senghore) are unable to prove otherwise -- especially after both murder weapon and body disappear.

However, Warren's guilt is only a small portion of what Reddin has in mind for this quirky play, which soon splinters into multiple storylines. Warren's wife Helen (Anne Bobby) leaves him to pursue a new career as a cross-dressing secretary for the eccentric Mr. Norton (Peter Reznikoff). Norton's former secretary, Tennel (Jeffrey Plunkett), changes his name to Fennel and manages a video store where he meets and falls in love with the caustic Annabel (Laura Schwenninger), who has a very protective and homicidal brother named Sydney (Ryan Michael Jones). Meanwhile, Warren's lawyer Tim (Rich Fromm) is having domestic problems with his manic-depressive boyfriend Chris (Ben Jaeger-Thomas), whose solution is to buy them a set of matching guns. The multiple plot threads occasionally intersect, but most often function as a kind of fugue that emphasizes themes of passion, violence, and betrayal.

Stuhr has a sullen intensity that makes him fascinating to watch. Bobby makes a strong impression with an incredibly funny, but rambling monologue about a man with penetrating blue eyes. Schwenninger hits all the right notes as the manipulative Annabel. Deighan has a nicely understated presence as Tyler. At the opposite extreme, Plunkett goes full out with his exaggerated portrayal of Tennel, managing to be both charming and ludicrous. Senghore has a few good moments, but comes across as too flat. Jones doesn't find enough shades to his characterization. Similarly, both Fromm and Jaeger-Thomas could use more colors in their portrayals. Reznikoff is the least engaging, and his scenes are the most difficult to sit through.

Given the large size of the cast, Boling has done a superb job of moving them in and out of the narrow strip of playing area that exists between two sides of audience seating (the set is by Travis McHale). However, he's less adept at striking the right tone for the overall piece, which ricochets from drama to farce and back again.


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