Keith Bunin's The Credeaux Canvas, presented by City Theatre, is a clever study of human nature. The three main characters battle inner conflicts dealing with how much they should give of themselves to their life's work and to each other. Directed by the City's Artistic Director Tracy Brigden, this production is fairly even in its presentation of the interpersonal relationships among Jamie (Jarrod Fry), his girlfriend Amelia (Jaime St. Peter), and his roommate Winston (Michael McMillian).
Jamie is the son of a recently deceased art dealer. His mother dead for years, he is now blatantly left out of his father's will, which leads Jamie to orchestrate an art forgery swindle as a way of raising his self-image (and the level of his bank account) in light of this final put down from his father. This, perhaps, could be his sought after success. Jamie involves Amelia, who wants to be a singer but is currently a waitress, and Winston, a devoted art student who has a talent for painting in the manner of Jean Paul Credeaux, an obscure French painter. But the real study here involves the search by Jamie, Amelia, and Winston for fulfillment of their hearts' desires, in relationships and in their work.
Jarrod Fry plays Jamie as an enthusiastic dreamer whose energy appears to be the thead that is keeping him alive. Unsatisfied with his current work as a real estate agent, a failure at his earlier attempt at studying art, Jamie is frantically trying to succeed at something. Fry brings out the appealing nature of Jamie's personality, presenting him as a charmer. The role is small, but key to the directions Amelia and Winston take, and Fry plays it perfectly.
Jaime St. Peter comes to the City with fresh credentials as a graduate of New York's Actors Center Conservatory and a senior in CMU's well respected Drama Department. She plays Amelia as self-effacing, on the cusp of maturity as she learns a few of life's toughest lessons from her relationships with these two young men. St. Peter handles the humor in her dialog very well, giving hint to a true comedienne. Her toughest task, and that of her character Amelia, is to discern the feelings and intentions of Michael McMillian and his character, Winston. Totally enmeshed in the many levels of an artist's work, Winston relates much better with paint on canvas than with people. Even by the play's end, McMillian plays Winston with such a muzzled persona, the expected revelation of his character fizzles.
An added treat in this show is the energy provided by Ingrid Sonnichsen, as art investor Tess.
Set designer Tony Ferrieri has created a realistic lower east side New York City apartment which is utilized to its fullest as the sole set for the piece.
The Credeaux Canvas offers some of Keith Bunin's finest dialog, which uses realistic speech to describe three very unique characters. The conclusion of the play may not be totally satisfying, but the journey is compelling. On the mainstage of the City Theatre, The Credeaux Canvas has been extended through February 17. More information is available at citytheatrecompany.org.