THE INTIMACY EFFECT
Nobody has cancer!
Matt declares about his birthday not being acknowledged
Remember when you were younger and heard your parents argue endlessly about nothing that important, but it seemed it was important because they argued so loud that the neighbors down the street could hear them?
Well, Amy and Matt Appel, respectively played by the dynamic duo of Toni Christopher and Tim Fannon, have that angle covered. The Bickersons are at it, and, this time it’s because they are celebrating Matt’s birthday a day late. It’s understandable to be pissed when your friends and spouse don’t recall the day you graced the earth with your presence. But, just like mom and dad, the argument runs deeper than a misplaced birthday card. They drink wine while sparring against each other, to see who can cut the deepest. Later in the evening, Matt’s brother Doug and sister-in-law Merrily, (Robert Bella and Jordana Oberman) and friend Jennifer (Cassidy Schiltz) arrive to Amy and Matt’s place. Despite the arguing, Merrily remans the sole optimistic soul in this chaotic mess. There’s more to Matt’s anger than male menopause.
He just got fired from his job as an English teacher at a junior high school for not following orders on handing out a mandate standardized test. And, he has severe anger issues that turn physical. The latest sore spot is his daughter Jessie. Matt recalls getting hit by Jessie for refusing to participate in her costly gymnastics class. He literally had to drag her away. Along with this madness, Amy is just as overwhelmed working as a speech pathologist for children with autism. That alone has its own set of issues. They are tired. Just tired. Again, understandable but what can you do? That’s the question playwright Jeff Tabnick (“I Found Her Tied to My Bed”) asks. What next? Two couples plus a single pregnant woman appear to be stuck in the happily ever after myth with no solutions, only more questions. Tabnick wrote a good eye-opening piece about relationships, marriage and holding it together but still failing in getting it right. Beyond the façade that all is well, each character does a quick freeze and offers the audience the truth on how they really feel.
Though it’s tough to see and hear, the cast is ultimately wonderful at executing Tabnick’s and director Eric Hunnicutt’s vision of the desolate story. Everyone comes undone. There is no easy answer, only maybe, there’s a possibility that matters have a slight, though dismal chance, of making it work by being honest and admitting this problem won’t magically go away. It’s brutal, straightforward and tears into the core of your truth. Christopher and Fannon does an excellent job in being a fearful warning of what’s to come when communication fails miserably.
The Intimacy Effect plays until Sunday, April 13th at 7 p.m., Friday, April 11th and Saturday, April 12th at 8 p.m. at The Lounge Theatre located at 6201 Santa Monica Boulevard in Los Angeles. For ticket information, visit https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3363415.