Krêkvars Students Arts Festival review play (2 stars)
If a play is as intimate as the Lier Theatre allows, short in duration and small in scale, the only few ways it can impress is with a cast of great performers and a powerful script to drive it. In the Middle of the Road Is a Tree is lacking in all departments.
The dramedy centres around the lives of a bickering couple, each with things they hate about the other. Sam (Jose Chung) loves to read his newspaper, of which his lover loves to cut pieces, and Emma (Georja Glyptis) has an obsession with cleaning utensils. Emma is deluded in thinking she has control of the relationship and of Sam, dictating the rules of engagement and expecting Sam to toe the line. But her grip loosens gradually and her insecurities are exposed (‘I depend on you for the breath in my lungs no matter how old and stale!’).
Chung’s delivery is astonishingly amateur and unnatural. And his first of two instances of repartee with Glyptis is weak, soulless, without feeling, rushed and laboured as though they both want to get it over and done with, and most unforgivably, prepared. It’s only in the easy, dramatic moments that the pair seem to show signs of vigour and passion. Anyone can shout and feign fury, but it takes an actor to milk the dry lines which seem to say nothing, to play with the muscles in their faces and make random gestures to fill the silence. The pseudo-confession monologue very near the first row of the audience seats who have felt more compelling with more capable, rounded performers, and not those who can only shine when they have to throw out tart retorts.
‘You washed your feet?’ is a recurring line in the play supposed to be some smart leitmotif, but whatever genius the play has is drowned out by its many distracting faults.