Sweetness and Light

Written and directed by Hanna Cheek, Arian Moayed, Rodney Gardiner, Mitchell Bisschop, Happy Anderson and Tom Ridgely
Songs by Lauren Cregor
Waterwell Drop
Altered Stages
212 W. 29th St (212/560-7454)
Equity showcase (closes Nov. 7)
Review by Seth Bisen-Hersh

Sweetness and Light is a play about history and technology. Six actors co-wrote and evolved a piece that follows an introverted inventor, while juxtaposing speeches and journal entries written by John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. The show had a lot of good things in it, but with six cooks in the kitchen, there was little cohesion and fluidity in the pot.

An inventor meets a girl on a bench. They instantly hit it off since they share certain dorky qualities, but she is leaving on the first of the month. Also on the first of the month, the inventor’s company might be getting bought out; the inventor works diligently to produce an everlasting light bulb before then in order to save the company. Interspersed into this reality are Adams and Jefferson, who argue and agree in their actual words -- painting a picture of a divided America that is an analogy for today.

The dialog felt improvved and adlibbed but genuine and realistic as a result. The tale of the inventor was amusing and cute; there was much humor produced. The juxtaposed dialogs between Adams and Jefferson meandered a bit and sometimes felt very non sequitur, but were historically relevant. The connection between the two parts seemed nonexistent until the end, when it became clearer if not completely lucid. The songs were superfluous but pleasant and added color to the production.

The six actors/directors/writers were able to convincingly portray their characters and keep the show moving at a good pace. They had good chemistry together. Technically, the show was seamless and intriguing. There were slides projected onto a movable black screen, background music provided on guitar, bass and percussion by Jeremy Daigle and Joe Morse, and all the set was on wheels.

Overall, the show was interesting if not impeccable. Although not completely clear in purpose, it made the audience think and provided for an entertaining evening. Thus, Sweetness and Light was indeed sweet and light.

Box Score:

Writing: 1
Directing: 1
Performing: 2
Set: 1
Costumes: 1
Lighting/Sound: 1

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Copyright 2004 Seth Bisen-Hersh