Breaking up is hard to do

Rebound & Gagged

By Aaron Ginsburg
Directed by Stephen Sunderlin
Equity showcase (closes Nov. 6)
Vital Theatre Company
The McGinn Cazale Theatre
2162 Broadway, 4th Floor (corner of 76th St.; 212/352-3101)
Review by Seth Bisen-Hersh

Rebound & Gagged was both hilarious and deeply touching. Performed by an exquisite ensemble under tight direction, it entertained while being quite poignant.

Rebound & Gagged starts with a sad sock puppet show. Kyle (Jason Gilbert) has recently broken up with his girlfriend, Dana. Or rather she has just dumped him and broken his heart. He mopes around and replays their relationship with socks. The other two main characters enter the scene and give him different advice. His friend, Jase (Jeff Meacham) says he should get drunk and laid. His roommate and good friend, Cooper (Nia McGovern), allows Kyle to mourn, but also thinks he should start trying to move on.

What follows is a candid look at the stages one follows in a break up -- trying unsuccessfully to move on. Jase and Cooper deal with their own problems, as well -- problems with trying to figure out what to do with their lives five years after they have graduated college. As a running gag, Cooper goes to wedding after wedding after wedding while being single, and working as a glorified receptionist while trying to be a photographer. Jase works in a bagel shop, and longs incessantly for the good old days of college.

The play itself is well-structured. The break-up at the beginning works as a launching point and the rest of the events of the play feel very realistic. The dialog is also realistic, and has wit, charm, and humor.

The cast was very good. Gilbert, Meacham, and McGovern were all funny without overtly trying. Rounding out the cast were Matt Hobby and Sarah Beth-Lee Williams, who were showcased nicely as they play a variety of extra men and women with whom the three major characters flirt, sleep, etc.

Stephen Sunderlin’s direction kept the show moving at a brisk pace. Even the scene changes were barely noticeable; sometimes the entire set was taken off almost surreptitiously during a monolog. Jessica Hooks’s set was functional while not feeling too minimal. Colleen Kesterson’s costumes were colorful and matched each other. Rie Ono’s lighting design suggested three areas of the stage aptly using different colors to occasionally differentiate the ambience. Finally, Lauren Arneson’s sound design did an exquisite job of transitioning from scene to scene -- each selection matched the mood of the upcoming scene; furthermore, it never felt conspicuous or contrived.

Overall, Rebound & Gagged was a most enjoyable and touching evening. Anyone approaching 30 will appreciate the show’s honesty and humor. .

Box Score:

Writing: 2
Directing: 2
Acting: 2
Set: 1
Costumes: 1
Lighting: 1/Sound: 2

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Copyright 2005 Seth Bisen-Hersh