Ruins by James Comtois is a modern-day tragedy of almost epic proportions. Don't be fooled by the fact that it's set in the bedrooms and barrooms of the 1990s -- though it starts out as a tangled tale of unrequited love and unmemorable sex, the play is ultimately about the promise of true love and the harsh realities that stifle it time and time again.
Chris (D. Patrick Shearer) is an attractive, likable guy who is seeing an attractive likable girl named Amanda (Samantha Turk). But after he meets Therese (Cat Johnson) while making arrangements to sublet her apartment, it is clear that he will never be happy with Amanda again. Therese has her own "other man" named Chuck (Christopher Yustin). How the four of these young lovers interact with one another -- and in which combination they end up -- comprises the central story line of the play. Liberally sprinkled in are encounters with other wild and willing strangers in the night, portrayed by Sarah Baker, Garrett Blair, Greg Foro, and King Nalreb.
Although most of the scenes in the play's three acts are presented in chronological order, Comtois has an intriguing style of playing with time, allowing the characters who narrate to have knowledge about future events. This gives them a complacent, almost removed view of their own lives and the choices that they make. Also thrown in are fantasy sequences that allow added insight into the characters' actions and motives. All work together to form a formidable statement on the risks and rewards of today's dating scene.
Director Pete Boisvert did a remarkable job of making a three-act play go by in a streamlined succession of satisfying scenes. Many of the characters were introduced in surprisingly sexy ways, and the staging of intimate encounters and public social occasions was equally effective. Boisvert always kept the viewer guessing as to which way the tone of a particular sequence was going to play out.
The cast was both comical and compelling, keeping up with Comtois's script demands every step of the way. Even the supporting players earned their share of laughs and made lasting impressions. Shearer portrayed Chris with wit and compassion. Johnson had the most demanding role as the conflicted Therese, and her vibrant charm and no-nonsense attitude gave her an edgy charisma. Yustin proved to be earnest and down-to-earth as the other man, and Turk shined as Chris's faithful future wife. Baker, Blair, Foro, and Nalreb tackled their multiple characterizations with cleverness and commitment.
Peter J. Scalettar suggested different locales and moods with his lighting scheme. Set, costume, and sound-design elements all added to the believability of the situation despite being uncredited.
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Copyright 2002 Elias Stimac