“The Property” at The Clurman Theater is a play about Irene (Rachel Botchan), her husband Eddie (Warren Kelly), her ex husband Vernon (Sam Tsoutsouvas) and a person who rents their cottage named Greg (John Long) and her son whom she tries to control, Todd (Phil Gillen). Produced by New Light Theater Project, Ben Josephson’s play deals with Irene who is in a loveless relationship to Eddie. Eddie is anathema to her ex husband, a swashbuckling real estate magnate who could care less about anybody but himself. He is a proud capitalist, unlike Ed who is a socialist. Ed is always about the people, he constantly preaches to his step son to be honest and caring of others. Irene likes the advise Ed gives Todd, she is a dotting mother and any attention heaped at Todd is good. Both mother and child, however, think Ed is a buffoon. Ed is in a dead end job at the book store he works at, he doesn’t care because he loves to read and quote the great writers. His collection of books is spectacular and reading is the only thing that he truly loves. Irene is willing to put up with Eddie because he is safe, he would never cheat on her like her ex, he is good to her son and everything is status quo, until Greg shows up to rent their cottage.
The set in “The Property” is a good one. It is something out of an A.R. Gurney play. The beach atmosphere and the warm lighting give the play a sense of security that Irene is desperately seeking. Caitlynn Barrett designed a wonderful set, using the props very efficiently for this play. Paul Hudson did an equally marvelous job with the lighting. The warm glow gave the audience the feeling of being at the beach. Hudson would lower the lights at the end of long somber speeches or when the play hit a sad note.
What should have been a good play, turned out to be a bad one. Josephson tried to squeeze in too much material within 90 minutes. He was unable to put forth anything meaningful or deep. This was compounded by the bland direction of Robert Kalfin. The most prime example was when Irene and Greg professed there love for one another. Unemotional toward each other throughout the play, the audience could not believe that these two barely liked each other, let alone loved each other. The cast did not blend well under Kalfin. Vernon was to animated, Eddie and Greg were too under animated and we just could not figure out Irene. Todd was even difficult to figure out, a seventeen year old who had a talent for writing but would not show anybody his works. He hated his father and thought Ed was a loser. He stood for nothing and did not want anything from anyone. He even shirked his mom’s affections. To the audience it seemed that Josephson wanted to convey a message and Kalfin had no idea what the message should be.
In what was lackluster acting, Todd-Gillen was the best actor on stage. I saw him in both “Gorey” and “The Home Place” this year and he is talented. Even with bad writing and direction he was believable. John Long who I saw this year as well in “Time Stands Still” had the same monotone, lifeless acting quality that he had in”Property”. In the program it says that Josephson is a physician , he should stick to medicine.