By Paul J. Desena; Directed by Kristen Penner
Produced by Bear Productions
Part of the Planet Connections Theatre Festivity
Off Off Broadway, New Play
Runs through 7.9.15
The Paradise Factory, 64 East 4th Street
by Shoshana Roberts on 6.23.15
Christopher Stokes and Michael S. Rehse in Easier Said Than Done. Photo by JC Vasquez.
BOTTOM LINE: A charismatic group of old college buddies have affairs and contemplate the future in this well executed production.
Nikki (Emily DeSena) clearly cares for Nathan (Michael S. Rehse). They have had physical relations in the past, but that is over now. Each is married, and not to each other, to Nikki's chagrin. Justin (Christopher Stokes) is her husband, but she is worried he has been unfaithful. It definitely seems like something secretive is going on under the radar. Then there is Catherine (Dana Leigh Snyder), Nathan's trophy wife. She wants to desire a domestic life, but finds it difficult as she is under pressure to forgive Nathan for his infidelities. They want to start over with a vow renewal, but with some unexpected complications at the grocery store Nathan owns and Nikki's interference in their life, it seems like not one of them knows how to interact with others. These old friends from college lie and deceive, fuck and flirt.
"They all tell me / Sing to him, swing with him / And just do anything for him / And tell him - he's the one / I got a love so true / But I'm sad and blue / 'Cause it's easier - easier said than done."
It was this number one song in 1963, sung by The Essex, that inspired the title and theme of Paul Desena's Easier Said Than Done. The song demonstrates the naivety about relationships in that era, when in reality, often times we just ignore the signs of what is happening right under our noses.
Hearing the song as the lights went down took me back to thoughts of the sixties. I felt like a fish and the music was the fishing rod casting the lure. In fact, I did swallow the bait by the end of the first scene. There is such a grasp of the rhythm of realistic human interactions present not only in the script, but also in its presentation. I thrashed around, swayed by the current pushing and pulling of my emotions. I went back and forth, unsure of which character was most deserving of my sympathy. Each moment reveals new and surprising details. The line was reeled in with me hanging on tight. All of the actors took the script and ran with it.
These characters barely tolerate each other. At times they are open about their feelings, but it is difficult to distinguish when it is truthful and when it is yet another facade. Even those married to one another gossip about one another. When all is factored in at the end, will the characters stick with the lives they've built or take a deep breath and start all over again? With so much volatility and betrayal does anyone really win?
(Easier Said Than Done plays at The Paradise Factory, 64 East 4th Street, through July 9, 2015. Remaining performances are Sunday 6/28 at 4, Monday 6/29 at 8:30, and Thursday 7/9 at 4. Tickets are $18 and are available at planetconnections.org.)