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|A CurtainUp Review
Unidentified Human Remains
By Macey Levin
Unidentified Human Remains is swollen with plot lines exploring heterosexual, gay and lesbian life, and a sub-plot about a serial murderer looming over New York City. David, the central character, has returned from Los Angeles after 9/11 and a budding acting career to drift through life as a waiter and male prostitute. His inability to establish a true relationship prohibits him from accepting the love of his friends. His roommate, Candy, explores lesbian love with a gym acquaintance while having a heterosexual affair with a bartender. David and Candy's mutual friend Bernie is in the midst of an unhappy marriage. And the story lines go on and on.
To Fraser's credit, he intricately weaves the various plots and characters into a whole piece using a cinematic technique of overlapping terse one-liners and brief scenes; in fact, the play has been transferred to the screen. Despite the fluidity of the manipulation of time and place, there are stretches of the play that feel interminable due to the repetitive and portentous qualities of the dialogue. A weak cast does not help the script.
Other than Andrew Frost's Kane, a busboy who becomes one of David's lovers, the acting is not realistic. The characters do not talk nor listen to each other, which creates a feeling of artificiality that envelops the stage. We do not care about what happens to them. Their problems and aspirations, of those who have any, are meaningless because it is difficult to believe these people exist. The entire cast and the director, Robert Bella, have been or are involved with the Atlantic Theater Company Acting School. It would appear that the training has been incomplete.
Though he has mishandled the acting aspect of the production, Bella's staging is crisp. He, set designer Gary Levinson and lighting designer Eric Southern efficiently create several different locales despite the theatre's small playing space. The play has a limited run which does not give the production time to grow, and it truly needs a lot of time.
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co. Click image to buy.
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