What starts out as engrossing and eerie eventually winds up being endlessly confusing and unsatisfying with more holes in the script than a pound of Swiss cheese.
Ken Urban’s THE CORRESPONDENT tries hard at being strange and in that respect he succeeds, attempting to be a combination of O’Henry and Hitchcock, but the story is ridiculous and we never know what is true and what is not in this well produced play at The Rattlestick Playwrights Theater where strange seems to be the norm – with varying amounts of success.
Ominous music and darkened lights set the sullen and mysterious mood – even the floor boards squeak. There is also a thunderstorm.
Philip Graves – note the last name – a successful Catholic lawyer living in Boston (Thomas Jay Ryan – giving his all) is distraught and comforts himself with wine – lots of wine. His wife of twenty five years had been struck by a car and died in his arms. Guilt and grief taking their toll.
The vases of white roses have barely wilted when he brings home Mirabel (Heather Alicia Simms) a young black woman who claims to be dying but looking like the picture of robust health promises him that she will give a message to his dead wife when she dies and he will be contacted via e-mail for the agreed upon fee. He is looking for forgiveness.
Then he receives a letter from someone who has entered his apartment with a set of keys gone missing way before and he has never changed the locks…
The letter appears to be from his dead wife – with her signature and referencing only things that she would know. And so Philip, who had argued with his wife and hit her (for the first and last time) just the day before she was hit by the fatal car or did she willingly step in its path? – wants her to come back. He is looking for forgiveness.
Meanwhile Mirabel needs a place to stay as her job as “correspondent” for the service that Philip found on the internet knows nothing about the letter but decides to find out who delivered it and why…
Everything accelerates from here on in this intermission-less ninety minute short scene filled horror.
Philip falls hard for Mirabel and they share a yucky, uncomfortable to watch kiss. She finds the young student (Jordan Geiger) who supposedly left the letters – there is more than one…and this young man supplies the most ludicrous twist of the evening.
What follows is hard to believe let alone accept. All I will say is that when all else fails playwright and director Stephen Brackett have the young man strip naked to perk things up with a more than yucky simulated sexual intercourse scene – with whom I won’t tell…
Will Philip ever find out what is going on? Will the audience? Will he ever be forgiven? I mean the playwright Ken Urban.
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