This post is more for me than anything else as I saw the production of Pas de Deux at Studio Theatre on closing night. The performance consists of 2 one act plays that are connected most clearly in their use of movement in telling the story. The first of the two shows was “Skin Tight”, which is the recounting the relationship between Tom and Elizabeth. The show starts with a punch as the two characters first appear on stage in a well choreographed and physical fight and throughout the production it vacillates between fond memories of their relationship and moments that cause angst between them. One of the great problems with the show was it was never really clear exactly when the show was taking place. At the end of the show an aging Tom is seen watching the action, purportedly cueing the audience that it was an aging Tom thinking back upon his relationship with Elizabeth. As the show develops it is clear that Elizabeth is dying and they are recounting their relationship, but what of the aging Tom watching the end of the show? What of the highly charged physical fighting that goes on between Tom and Elizabeth at points in the show? Is Tom recounting various moments of their relationship? It was never truly clear whether the characters were flashing between different periods of time, or their story was being retold on their final afternoon together and the aged Tom is recalling that afternoon. That, in of itself, is a problem. I also didn’t find Elizabeth all that sympathetic a character. You learn during the show that Tom was sent off to war and that he witnessed many horrific moments in the war and that he came back suffering from PTSD and having nightmares. Yet, Tom seemed the character more well-adjusted when dealing with these things he had viewed. While Elizabeth played the victim of having to deal with his nightmares and having to see young men return from the war maimed.
The second show was definitely of the lighter variety, 2-2 Tango recounted the meeting of two gay men at a club and their evening together. The two playing out the evening and their internal monologues as to whether this was merely a one-night stand, or the beginning of a relationship. The show had some funny moments, but it too had a fatal flaw in my mind. The playwright loved to drag on a joke too long. For instance, at one point in the show the characters spot each other and they start spelling out the phrase V-E-R-Y A-T-T-R-A-C-T-I-V-E. They then continue circling the stage dancing repeating the phrase about 15 times. The moment was funny, but it became played out after the fourth or fifth time it was repeated. Similarly, when the two characters were expressing their independence by dancing solo and repeating the phrase “indepen-dance” 15 or so times. Or the recitation of 10 scenarios in which the characters imagined what could go wrong if they actually were in a relationship. It brought to my mind a moment in “An Iliad” where the storyteller begins reciting every war from the Iliad through modern times. We got the point 20 wars in and it was just belaboring a point by hitting me over the head with it. It may have been two minutes on stage, but it felt like 10 minutes. And that is what the extended jokes in 2-2 Tango felt like to me.