LA Review: 'Everything Is Enough'

at the Open Fist Theatre Company as part of the First Look Festival

Reviewed by Jennie Webb

July 31, 2012


Photo by Ehrin Marlow
Oh, that singular moment when everything seems to shift. A sudden decision or action sets about an unforeseen chain of events, and nothing is ever the same. Presented as part of Open Fist's First Look Festival, Elizabeth Berger's new play "Everything Is Enough" begins with just such a moment, except we don't really recognize its importance as it happens. That's the terrific premise of this charming, whimsical play full of puzzle pieces. Unfortunately, it's all presented with such a quirky disconnect that we're kept from putting it all together or tracking any sort of emotional reality.

Directed by Gita Donavan, "Everything Is Enough' centers on Dennis (Jamison Jones), a 40-something lawyer who has everything. During a last-minute shopping trip, he tells the attractive teenage salesgirl (Jennifer Schoch) what he really wants: a kiss. In Berger's heightened theatrical world, this retail confessional is almost naive. But word soon gets to Dennis' adoring wife, Marcy (Martha Demson), his acerbic visiting sister Karen (Beth Robbins), and his beloved daughter in college (Jessica Noboa), and no one's treating it lightly. On the other hand, despite words of protestation, the production's fanciful, matter-of-fact tone ensures that no one really seems all that upset, especially Dennis, who continues to act on his naughty impulses with complete indifference to anyone else.

There are so many great snatches of dialogue and fascinating bits for these characters. Robbins' in-your-face Karen is a joy, as are Danielle Soibelman's Audrey, Karen's silent 9-year-old adopted daughter, and Challen Cates' Clair, Dennis' unhappy boss. We get interesting, often lyrical glimpses into complicated relationships and are glad that the playwright doesn't give us easy answers in what could be just another midlife-crisis story. But at the same time we're left with too many questions and promissory notes. It's nice to see the appealing Jones shy away from playing Dennis like a complete asshole, yet we don't connect his wounded little-boy-lost to the narcissist everyone else describes, and an all-important moment is missing: when his world started to come apart.

Although the production is a bit scrappy around the edges, it's staged effectively on Zachary Guiler's utilitarian setting, and Peter Carlstedt's sound design is notable. But overall we're left wanting less and more at the same time. There are a lot of pieces that don't seem to fit.

Presented by and at the Open Fist Theatre Company as part of the First Look Festival, 6209 Santa Monica Blvd, L.A. July 21–Aug. 11. Schedule varies. (323) 882-6912 or www.openfist.org.
 

 
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