Sexual abandon

Platinum Travel Club

By Franca Miraglia
Directed by Anne Beaumont
New Perspectives Theatre Company
750 8th Ave. (212/730-2030)
Equity showcase (closes Oct. 22)
Review by Adam Cooper

Platinum Travel Clu,b by Franca Miraglia, is a play about self-discovery and self-actualization in the face of a debilitating family past. Anne Winkles starred as Sandie, a successful woman in the world of business but a struggling woman in matters of love. In lieu of romantic relationships, she hooks up anonymously with fellow searching souls via a high-tech executive escort service. As she travels from continent to continent, she strangely keeps encountering Executive (Tony Neil), who role-plays with her and inadvertently helps her elevate and actualize her inner neuroses.

In the midst of traveling around the world for work, Sandie is called home to assist with her unstable mother, Maureen (Joanie Schumacher). Becoming almost a surrogate parent to a mom who relishes shoplifting, Sandie also tries to reckon with her remote, denying, and guilt-tripping father (Jed Dickson). The juxtaposition of these other-worldly encounters brings to life her inner experience of her dreams and projections about her traumatized childhood with Caroline (Christine Amorosia), a sister she would come to lose through familial neglect. Through agonized sex games and confrontations with her parents, Sandie vicariously tries to come to terms with her lost sister’s experience and thus achieve her own sense of healing catharsis.

While bold in its intentions and intricacies, the production only moderately succeeded in actualizing its agenda. Billed as an erotic thriller, the production was not possessed of an insatiable sense of mystery. Though complexly jigsaw-shaped in construction as it traveled through time, space, and internal and external realities, the scenework did not interlock and dramatically build. The production lacked a consuming, self-propelling engine to drive it towards its secret-revealing climax. Rather than a gradual character-driven unraveling fueled by the voracious needs of the characters, the production moved forward essentially by the sheer will of the playwright.

Language, too, was a limiting factor in the robustness of the storytelling. The elliptical dialog created some sense of wonder, but frequently it did not offer a steady stream of rich story elements to continuously sustain curiosity. Some of the dialog was also superfluous and lacking in originality. Many of the two-scenes involving sibling or parent-child relations often boiled down to non-descript interactions.

The portrayals generally did not succeed in bringing to life fully-formed, engaging characters. The characters often switched from one emotion state to another without a smooth, earned journey between them, and consequences of actions often lacked necessary ownership during subsequent interactions. Most critically, the characters’ actions did not engagingly exude their passions, expose their vulnerabilities, nor reflect the stakes at hand.

Anne Beaumont’s direction generally handled the mechanics of the complex weaving of the various settings but was less successful in bringing out the multifaceted vision of these damaged characters. For example, having certain characters rarely make eye contact seemed contrived and overly symbolic, while the various sudden confrontations came off as presentational and stagy. Likewise, the spartan set design (Casey Smith) was functional in handing the multitude of settings but implemented overly transparent imagery, like a partially mangled white picket fence, to underline the textual themes.

(Also featuring Andrew Platner and Alexis Casanovas.)

Box Score:

Writing: 1
Directing: 1
Acting: 1
Set: 1
Costumes: 1
Lighting/Sound: 1

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Copyright 2005 Adam Cooper