Justin Skye Conley and Lavetta Griffin don’t manage to touch us in February.
FEBRUARY by Lisa Moore (Alumnae Theatre, 70 Berkeley). To October 6. Pwyc-$20. 416-364-4170. See listing. Rating: NN
In 1982, an oil rig called the Ocean Ranger sank off the coast of Newfoundland, killing all 84 workers on board. This uneven drama about the incident follows the surviving family of a fictional victim in an attempt to depict the emotional toll left in the wake of tragedy.
An accomplished author but rookie playwright, Lisa Moore struggles to adapt her 2009 novel for the stage. February consists of out-of-order glimpses of the lives of Helen (Lavetta Griffin), the wife of one of the workers, and her son, John (Justin Skye Conley), from the months leading up to the accident to the present day. After spending years alone, Helen finally makes a mid-life effort to find new love, while John becomes a globe-trotting corporate douchebag and deals badly with news of an unplanned pregnancy.
The plot takes far too long to come into focus, and neither of these fictionalized stories is all that interesting. (Why not tell real-life stories?) Another major problem is the acting: Griffin exudes a stiff, nervous energy that's difficult to watch, while Conley (who stands well over 6 feet) looks ridiculous playing an annoying toddler in flashbacks and is entirely unsympathetic as a callous adult. On top of the inconsistent East Coast accents, too many overlong scenes fail to add anything of substance to the plot or themes.
The side-by-side overlapping monologues that bookend the play are a poor choice by director Michelle Alexander, since their impact gets lost in a jumble of words.