Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Animals Out of Paper

Animals Out of Paper
by Rajiv Joseph
directed by Amy Glazer
West Coast Premiere
The SF Playhouse
February 2, 2010 7pm

Lorri Holt, Ilana
David Deblinger, Andy
Aly Mawji, Suresh

Having an interest in origami, I bought a ticket to this show on the strength of the title alone. & indeed the play is set in the studio of an origami artist who is in the midst of an emotional & creative block. A high school math teacher brings her a gifted student to mentor, & a messy relationship between the 3 ensues.

I appreciated that the origami terminology used by the characters is correct. I was delighted by the set, which is full of folded animals, & wished I could go onstage to get a closer look. I quickly recognized Bernie Peyton's cacti, Linda Mihara's connected cranes & Jeremy Shafer's anatomically accurate heart. I even spotted real-life origami expert Robert Lang in the audience. His flying hawk figures importantly in the 1st scene.

The play itself contains many charged moments, but I found it lacking in over-all structure. During the 1st scene of the 2nd act it became clear where the situation was heading, yet the big encounter in the last scene, the only time all 3 characters are on stage, was left completely unresolved. I felt like the play needed at least one more scene.

All 3 actors were wonderful to spend time with. David Deblinger is especially convincing & sympathetic as a sweetly nerdy high school teacher. I would almost see this show again just for his warm performance. Aly Mawji is charismatic as your classic confused-yet-big-hearted teenager.

The theater has an informal atmosphere, & members of the staff & the audience seemed to know each other. Many people brought drinks with them to their seats. I was seated next to a gentlemen in a stiff leather jacket that creaked whenever he shifted in his seat. A new kind of theater distraction.

No comments: