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Monique Vukovic and Joyce Storey in Caged
(Photo: Irene Young)
A woman is trapped in a cage--but not really. The door is open and, if she wanted to escape, she could simply walk out. The cage is more in her mind than anything else. Another woman comes to visit her; she tries to help the first woman and a tentative friendship is forged.

The situation pays tribute to works by Samuel Beckett, among others--particularly, to Waiting for Godot. The action of Caged takes place on both a physical and a metaphorical level, grounded by the dialogue between the two principal characters. They while away the time, thinking of ways for Connie (Monique Vukovic) to escape her cage. They play games, make paper airplanes, argue with each other, and become reconciled. Bonnie (played by Joyce Storey, who is also the playwright) is dressed in a smart gray business suit, which is in sharp contrast to Connie's white lace nightgown. It's unclear why Bonnie comes to the aid of a woman who was previously a stranger; at various times, it seems that she might be Connie's therapist or her captor.

Both actors are talented, and Vukovic is especially compelling during an emotional breakdown that her character suffers about three-quarters of the way into the action. The trouble is that, once the themes are established, the play loses momentum. Part of the blame for this rests on the shoulders of director Andrew Hurley; the pacing of the production is slow and is made even more so by the insertion of songs between scenes, sung by A.J. Cope. Strumming on a guitar, Cope offers vocal renditions that are folksy and upbeat; she sits in a stylized birdcage in an upstage corner of the set, observing the action and commenting through song. Although this device has a certain conceptual appeal, it is clumsy in execution and therefore seems unnecessary.

The script also needs some editing. There is far too much repetition in the dialogue, which is full of clichés, and the final scene does not quite work. Part of the problem is that the script meticulously avoids specificity: There are references to an unnamed "they" who will not come, and to events beyond the narrow confines of the cage and its immediate surroundings. A certain amount of ambiguity is fine but, because there aren't enough concrete elements here for an audience to grasp hold of, the play ends up seeming a bit pretentious.

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