Saturday, September 26, 2009

Finn in the Under World

It’s another one of “those” shows at convergence continuum

At the conclusion of ‘FINN IN THE UNDERWORLD,’ at convergence –continuum, the woman sitting next to me said, “Yep, this is another one.” What she was referring to was that before the show she said, “I keep coming back here because you never know what you are going to see and hear. A lot of their stuff is weird, yes, just plain weird.”

Jordan Harrison has written what is billed as “an erotic thriller.” ‘FINN’ has been called “a cocktail of sex and suspense to attract and titillate audiences, but with less comforting implications about human nature.”

The plot line concerns a pair of sisters who go back to their family home to divide and pack up their parent’s belongings. The house has an intriguing history. A subterranean air raid shelter was built there during the cold war scare. A neighborhood boy was found dead in the basement. Cause of death? Asphyxiation. It could have been self-induced or murder. Owwww…murder??? Is this house haunted by ghosts? Owwww…ghosts? Who is that guy who appears, but is supposedly dead?

As a clock with a projected face gives us a minute-to-minute update, and moves forward and backward to accommodate the play’s time jumps, we watch as the sisters, Rhoda and Gwenn, bicker with other, while Gwen’s 20-year old son, Finn, plays sex games with a creepy neighbor (Carver) in the shelter. The games turn into a “boy” and “daddy” scenario, and seems to parallel a relationship between Carver and the neighbor boy who was found dead. Owwww…was his death asphyxiation with a sexual twist?

The major problem is that ‘FINN’ really isn’t that well written. It promises more than it delivers and comes off as more pointless than genuinely affecting. Nothing wrong with making audiences leave the theater scratching their heads and wondering, “What the heck was that?,” but aside from its attempt at a “naughty” shock factor, it’s pretty thin.

The convergence production, under the direction of Geoffrey Hoffman, is presented in a two-act version, instead of the original script’s 90-minute format. The reason is unclear as nothing is gained by the pause.

Hoffman keeps the pacing on target, most of the actors fulfill what the script gives them, especially the always bizarre and creative Lucy Bredeson-Smith as Gwen, she of pill popping and manic mood swings. Scott Gorback gives a nice tone to the hormone-guided Finn.

Unfortunately, the sexual titillation, a key element in Harrison’s intent, is kept to a minimum by Hoffman’s awkward direction of the sex scenes between Gorback and Clyde Simon (Carver). Neither of the actors seems comfortable with the goings on. In addition, the faking of interactions leaves the audience unengaged and confused. Because of convergence’s intimate theatre, the faking of the sex doesn’t work. The audience is too close to be fooled. Hoffman should have committed to either being explicit or going to blackouts after the implications are out there. Not that this would have helped the plot, but it might have given some of the audience Harrison’s erotic intent.

Capsule Judgement: ‘FINN IN THE UNERWORLD’ is not a well-written script and gets a minimally satisfying production at convergence.