Reviews for She’s Not There (Winnipeg Fringe 2009)

JULY 19, 2009: FOUR STARS, CBC review of She’s Not There

Scott and Casey have been together for seven years and that means things are getting…well, a little itchy.

Enter the other woman: a hipster bombshell who goes by “Raine”, collects graphic novels, makes her own beer, and casually mentions treks to Nepal. To Scott, Raine is a flirtatious breath of fresh air that puts him back in touch with his younger self; to Casey, she’s nothing but trouble.

Will Scott and Casey survive her presence in their apartment building and their lives?

Scott and Casey’s interactions bring to mind the chemistry of coupledom’s greatest duos: their ebb and flow recalls Mad About You’s Helen Hunt and Paul Reiser or even Cosby’s Clair and Cliff Huxtable. This is a couple you want to root for.

And then there’s the interloper: Jennifer Hupe’s Raine is a powerful force. She is young, but canny; utterly self-possessed and unapologetic in her pursuit of Scott…and still there is something vulnerable there. You like her in spite of yourself.

Alix Sobler’s script doesn’t sing so much as it zings with biting banter and still it could lose a scene or two in the last three -quarters of the play where the energy lags a little.

There are lots of understated directorial flourishes here like the gentle bump of the elevator as it slides to its stop. The cast makes excellent use of the set and space and each scene change features a little musical cover (I suspect these guys now have every conceivable version of “She’s Not There” in their itunes library).

As the lights dim at the play’s end, Scott is left contemplating a glass of wine. Whether he considers it half empty or half full is anybody’s guess…but for the audience this show is definitely the latter.

4 Stars

Reviewed by: Katie Nicholson

JULY 18 2009: FOUR STARS,  The Winnipeg Free Press review ofShe’s Not There

An eternal conflict plays out in a fully modern setting in this crisply written and stylishly performed romantic drama, which explores the tensions that arise when long-settled love runs head-on into youthfully exuberant temptation.

Thirty-somethings Casey and Scott (playwright Alix Sobler and her real-life fiancé Jason Neufeld) have been a couple for seven years; they say all the right things and feel all the stage-of-relationship-appropriate feelings — heck, they’re even scheduled to meet with a wedding planner.

But when Scott encounters 22-year-old knockout Raine (Jennifer Hupe) in the apartment building’s elevator lobby, everything gets knocked straight sideways. He finds, in her, everything he used to be (or, at least, wishes he once was) in a drop-dead-gorgeous, conversationally intriguing and, startlingly, very-interested-in-him package.

What follows, in a perfectly paced series of scenes (deftly adjusted by movement of a simple open doorway), is an exploration of feminine wiles, feminist intent and good, old-fashioned, weak-kneed male ego.

Trendy without being trite and fully up to speed with its characters and the times they inhabit, She’s Not There is totally all there.

4 Stars

—Brad Oswald

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