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Mountain – Mount Vernon United Methodist Church
Saturday July 19th at 9:00 p.m.
Friday July 25th at 8:00 p.m.
Sunday July 27th at 4:30 p.m.
They say: Sylvia Clark is descending into debilitating illness. In a vulnerable state, she becomes involved with two of her students. Questions of blame are blotted out with visions of happily ever after, until someone discovers their secret, threatening all their futures.
Sophia’s take: Writing Miss Clark’s Resume falls into a common trap for new plays. It is written and directed almost as if it’s a movie or television show, rather than a play. The scenes are short and a change of setting and time occurs between each. This works when the medium is film and one can edit the scenes to seamlessly flow together. On stage, however, each change of location and jump forward or back in time must be demonstrated with a visual display that can be a major technical undertaking. The playwright and director have so burdened the script and production with scene changes that they completely undermine the experience for the audience.
This is the kind of point I hate to belabor in a Fringe review. Production values are bound to be a little rough around the edges and often that’s part of the fun. But when a show starts to feel like equal parts action and scene change, it’s hard to understate the disruptive effect it has on the story.
Kelly Canavan’s script feels improbable and unfinished, too. Miss Clark is a high school teacher who is passionate about her work. She clearly delights in seeing her “babies” get enthusiastic about learning. Her fulfilling career comes under threat, however, when her health starts to fail and she is diagnosed with Lupus. One evening, in a state of exhaustion, she falls asleep in the presence of two of her students, Alicia and Eric, who are themselves a couple. Alicia and Eric begin to make out with Miss Clark. The scene then transitions before the audience gets any clear sense of the extent to which Miss Clark participates in this first encounter.
When the lights rise on the next scene, time has passed and a three-way affair between teacher and underage students is underway. In the course of just one scene change, Miss Clark goes from victim to willing, invested participant who has completely justified her behavior to herself. It’s a surprising turn of events. Not so much because of the shock factor, but because it’s such an unfounded switch of character.
Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I have no first hand knowledge Lupus or its debilitating effects. That said I have a hard time believing that it can alter the moral fiber of those who suffer from the disease. If it can, this production does not show how and why. If it can’t, then other forces must be at work within Miss Clark’s psyche and the production doesn’t illuminate those either.
People, of course, are capable of change and of justifying amoral or illegal behavior. Countless riveting works of art explore that process. At the conclusion of Miss Clark’s Resume, however, Miss Clark’s motivations remain a complete mystery. The story lacked the revelatory details that allow an audience to invest in a character’s fate.
See it if: You somehow missed the memo that combining bad luck and bad judgment won’t end well.
Skip it if: You prefer your ratio of show to scene-change to favor the former.