Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.
Fallen from Proust
The first thing the audience sees is another in James Kronzer's gallery of delicious sets: a sumptuous apartment in Sausalito, California, with an inviting charcoal-like view of San Francisco through the large windows. Since it's a Kronzer set, the outwardly simple setting will reveal a few surprises in the course of the action.
At the beginning, the action centers around three people: Gary (Damon Boggess), who lives in the apartment; his longtime girlfriend Michelle (Hope Lambert), who doesn't live with Gary but would like to; and his new roommate Roger (Michael Glenn). Michelle is looking for a confidante, and she immediately becomes fast friends with Roger, who is gay. Parenthetically, they all live in a world where being gay is no big deal, but being a Republican is considered a dark personal flaw.
As matters progress, the plot eventually brings in a fourth person, the personable Alan (Daniel Frith), but the audience should not know too much else ahead of time. Most of the play's laughs depend on surprise and the shock of discovery.
So, what does Proust have to do with anything? Only that Roger's volume of Proust is where the other characters and the audience discover the answers to many secrets. It could be any book, but it happens to be one by Proust.
Director Will Pomerantz delineates the characters skillfully, allowing them to come to life without resorting to caricature. Despite the occasional contrivances of the script, these people are not stereotypes; they're people trying to find their place in the world, and maybe find friendship, companionship, love and good sex along the way.
Similarly, the actors never try too hard to convince the audience. They're a comfortable group to spend an evening with: Lambert, a woman who sees nothing ridiculous in wearing a Victoria's Secret chemise under her jeans and sweatshirt; easygoing Glenn, who thinks he's in control until he suddenly isn't; confident, even cocky, Boggess, trying to balance the many sides of his life; and ingenuous Frith.
The Signature Theatre