Get Cultured — March 17, 2016 at 11:30 am

“Connected” is Worth Swiping Right For

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The human being was made to be social. To unite in tribes and construct civilizations. The very nature of our progress is simple: we must woo somebody into attraction until that attraction becomes a real connection that can be explored. From that connection a family is formed, then two start to multiply. That family will then become part of a community of people that connected the same way, and form the tribe that becomes a society. Things haven’t changed in that department — we still need to reproduce to survive and evolve. The very essence of civilization lies on those connections. But it is now 2016, civilization has progressed to the point of global communication, allowing people across the planet to form those connections without the need to be face to face. It is baffling to see how far technology has facilitated such a feat, yet it has left a void. This void is where Lia Romeo’s character lives in the new play Connected,” a study of the simple act of communication in the complex world of global connection.

The play itself is clever, fast, realistic, and absurd. It’s in the absurdity we realize how blurry our reality really is, and Romeo does a great job of getting us to that revelation comfortably in the first scene. Charmed by Midori Francis’s dance as Meghan, and subsequently the character itself, we were treated to a beginning that showed more than a little promise. As her story progressed, I was stuck by its raw adoration of old high school rom-coms, easily integrating them into our MTV nurtured generation, and making the audience hold their every action. I’m not kidding, this is not an intense or suspenseful play but the characters demand your attention. Romeo had me right there, then the second storyline started out of nowhere. I was in awe that this one was even stronger than the first story. The chemistry that Gus Birney and Aria Shahghasemi had was an anchor of seriousness in this humorous look at our social problem. Gus was both annoying and vulnerable, having to keep the shallow presence she has built while finally realizing she has a choice of how to act. Aria serves well as the shoulder for the revelation and provides the layers in which the relationship becomes a success then a failure. Between these two stories and an ensemble that could get a smile out of anybody, I was enthusiastic to know what was next. I felt the link between these stories was little by little moving us toward an emotional reward. Then the next two stories happened.

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This is when the script started losing steam, almost repeating itself, and delving into branches of the same theme using similar approaches. The third story was of a person that only could talk to people normally through video games. While this is a situation worth writing about, and the performances were good, the story itself is not as interesting. It’s the most tragic tale, yet the weight doesn’t feel nearly as heavy. The fourth and final was the hardest one to take. Not because it was in any way bad, but because the message had been done before and at this point the production was getting preachy. The whole production was perfectly put together by a great team led by director Michole Biancosino, but it wasn’t enough to mask its problem. By the end, we were left with a series of one acts that are related to each other but with a weak connection that leaves us feeling unrewarded. It’s a shame that I felt none of the character arches were finished by curtain call, instead they all felt like a great first scene for a longer work.

Connected” is playing at 59E59 Theaters, with the production designs to make everyone feel inadequate. I wholeheartedly recommend it since those technical aspects come with powerful acting, fun writing, and all of the feels. You will connect (pun intended) with at least one of the stories that populate this work, if not all. Put Lia Romeo on the growing list of playwrights doing bold and important work out there. Personally can’t wait to see the work grow.

*All images via Hunter Canning

Out of 4 stars:

fourstars

Twisted Talk: Have you seen any of the productions at 59E59 Theaters? What do you think of the theme of this show? Discuss below!

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