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A CurtainUp Review
a full-length play in thirteen scenes
Listen, Doctor, I'm here because I'm dreaming of a killer. She chews up my sleep. She injects me with ideas. She shows angry muscle. Is she invading -- or am I calling? I don't want a cure. I want what she has. Power. Velocity, Ferocity. Light. Courage without compromise. . . 
--- Lucy, in the midst of a heretofore Mametian exchange with a psychiatrist.
Jacqueline Bowman as The Woman
(Photo: Amy Feinberg)
If plays were to be classified according to the adjective that best describes them, Quake would immediately go into the Q folder under the word quirky. To coin a phrase, it's a High Quirk romp down playwright Melanie Marnich's version of the Yellow Brick Road with a twist of astrophysics. Instead of Dorothy, we have a twenty-something blonde named Lucy (Dannah Chaifetz), who is propelled to "move with the curve of the world" to find the love of her life. Her quest takes her cross-country, starting in the back woods of Maine and ending in a park in California. Along the way she has numerous romances, all falling short of "the Big Love". There are other fantastical encounters with among others, a psychiatrist, a convenience store clerk and a New Age psychic healer. But Ms. Marnich's best High Quirk invention , and the key to Lucy's quest, is an astrophyscist-serial killer (Jacqueline Bowman) who looks like a Go-Go Dancer and is known only as That Woman.

When Quake made its debut at the Humana 2001 Festival our reporter, Chris Whaley singled it out for its fresh and distinctive voice. And right he is. Marnisch is funny but not simply stand-up comic funny. Her dialogue is as full of poetry as laughs and the often surreal romantic humor reveals layers of meaning with a decidedly feminist slant. Unlike her slight and not particularly theatrical Blur which was produced at MTC last season, Quake is far more ambitious and well worth seeing. -- especially The leading actress is Dannah Chaifetz (not Chalfert) Jacqueline Bowman plays That Woman (caption) so as staged by the Hypothetical Theatre Company's artistic director Amy Feinberg .

Ms. Feinberg has assembled a spirited cast of seven, all but two of whom handily fill multiple roles. Dannah Chaifetz's Lucy is an apt mix of naivete and determination. Jacqueline Bowman gets maximum dramatic punch from the complex role of Lucy's alter ego who has the power and energy that has eluded sweet Lucy. As she (That Woman) sums it up during an appearance in Lucy's dream: "Like most scientific pioneers, I'm called a crackpot . . . Unlike most scientific pioneers I have to dispose of a body. I am fucking brilliant. And that is pure energy. " As for those boyfriends she does in: " I knew what it was like to wish upon a supernova. I just wanted more."

Unlike the Humana Festival production which featured a moving sidewalk, Hypothetical's set designer Mark Symczak has done wonders with a small budget. The simple set, artfully lit by Randy Glickman, works beautifully for seamlessly navigating the many location shifts. His use of three green steamer trunks is sheer genius. Those trunks are an ever present metaphor for Lucy's moving on. They are also hilariously effective as bicycles, a convenience store counter and as the body of a car poised over a sprawled out garage mechanic.

For all the references to the laws of physics, Quake is hardly another Arcadia or Copenhagen. But its good writing and abundance of entertaining scenes (It's hard to pick a favorite -- Lucy as a beauty contestant?, Lucy and the psychiatrist?) make for a well-spent ninety minutes. At less than $20 a ticket, it also won't take a big bite out of your entertainment budget.

Other Hypothetical productions reviewed at CurtainUp

The Garden of Hannah List/

Written by Melanie Marnich
Directed by Amy Feinberg
Cast: Dannah Chaifetz as Lucy, Jacqueline Bowman as That Woman. With Irene McDonnell, Jonathon Gentry, Robert Bowen Jr., John Kevin Kennedy and Matt Seidman.
Set Design: Mark Symczak.
Costume Design: T. Michael Hall.
Lighting Design: Randy Glickman.
Sound Design: Tim Cramer & Maelstrom Music
Movement Choreography: Nicholas Gray
Running Time: 75 minutes, without intermission
The Hypothetical Theatre Company, at Sol Goldman Y of the Educational Alliance, 344 E. 14th Street (1st/2nd Aves) (212) 206-1515 or
2/13/02-3/10/02; opening 2/15/02
Wed, Thurs at 7pm, Fri & Sat at 8pm, Sun at 3pm -- $15 in advance, $19 at door -- TDF vouchers accepted.
Reviewed by Elyse Sommer based on February 16th press preview
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