Friday, November 21, 2014

Arouet stumbles with "The Fierce Urgency of Now"

Evan Louis Thomas and Laura Crouch in The Fierce Urgency of Now (Michael Brunk)
The Fierce Urgency of Now
Arouet (at Stone Soup)
through November 22, 2014

I can see the interest Arouet had in a script with a gay man as lead. Unfortunately, The Fierce Urgency of Now is a tepid script that does not go beyond stereotyping of ad agencies, office politics, or much else. Also unfortunately, the production is also tepid and uninspiring.

Four of five actors are people I have seen many times and enjoyed very much. Their work here cannot be said to be their best work. The lead, Evan Louis Thomas, may be a genial fellow, but he is not up to the challenge of the lead and was not at all convincing in the role. 

Playwright Doug DeVita has written a story about Kyle, an unhappy ad exec who works in a cutthroat office (in a cutthroat business) and somehow is too naive to realize that his new boss really doesn't like him and is using him to her own ends. 

The title never seems to apply to the story. There isn't anything particularly urgent about any of the story. In fact, the pacing, as directed by Roy Arauz, is unintentionally languid, I think. The rather amazing bare set (3 black boxes and a black desk) gets rearranged over and over as if the set changes make huge differences. The only enjoyable parts of the set changes are the cheeky way Kelly Johnson moves things in the almost dark, and the fun and appropriate sound design of John Epperson. If the scene changes were lightning speed without such careful regard to moving boxes and desk, it would enliven the pacing enormously.

Out of supporting players Mark Waldstein, Lisa Viertel, Kelly Johnson and Laura Crouch, Crouch is the only one whose character is actually interesting and compellingly written: an older woman who is trying to stay relevant (and employed) in a world that would rather see her retire. 

The filling in of back stories such as Kyle not liking to fly because his parents died in the Lockerbie plane bombing propels some of the story, but still does not create significant tension. This is a disappointing, rather lackluster, effort.