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Thursday, July 26, 7:00 p.m.
They say: “If you don’t have Morgan Freeman to narrate it, the story of your life is told through your conversations with your friends and family. Redial is the story of four aspiring actresses in New York told through phone conversations.”
SCENE: You’re sitting at the tent bar, at that one table beside the ticket booth-thing next to the building on stilts. Just over the fence behind you, in the cordoned-off sidewalk area, a Fringe & Purge reviewer is having what he seems to assume is a private conversation with a friend of his, but you overhear.
REVIEWER: Yesterday. Agh I’m so Fringed out I can’t remember what I saw. Oh! I saw Redial.
FRIEND: Which one’s that?
REVIEWER: It’s about four New York actresses. Struggling doing-their-best thirtysomethings.
REVIEWER: But it takes place entirely within their phone calls to each other and other people.
FRIEND: Oh. Sounds good.
(It’s hard to tell, but you think the friend is being sarcastic.)
REVIEWER: It is, actually. I liked it a lot. It was very well-written, well-acted.
FRIEND: Oh, okay.
REVIEWER: I’m serious.
FRIEND: I mean, I’m not arguing, I haven’t seen it. But I think I’ve had enough of the problems of New Yorkers.
REVIEWER: See, that’s the thing. Like, any topic can be made interesting if it’s done well enough, right? So if it was like what it sounds, like one of those ‘New York plays about New Yorkers’ where it’s all self-absorbed, I’d totally be with you. But these four characters are totally real people, flawed, sympathetic, funny, decent human beings and all that. I wanted to spend more time with them, like, as people, after it was over, you know? FRIEND: So it’s like Girls except with phones? (The excellent and dependable Fringe staff bartender brings you your Prosecco, and you end up chatting for a bit, and then finally tune back in to the conversation.)
REVIEWER: So who am I forgetting? Oh right because it doesn’t say her name in the program here, the actress’s name, because she was an understudy – Nayab Hussein. I was like “poor thing” when she came on because she had to check her lines from an iPad —
REVIEWER: No, no, it totally works! Because it’s like, again, reality, she’s checking her computer while on the phone like eeeeveryone does while at work or home. And she was super natural, if they hadn’t said anything I wouldn’t have known, well, except for recognizing her personally from —
FRIEND: Oh right! Yeah, her. From the — right, right, yeah.
REVIEWER: Yeah, her! Anyways, her character is the most stable on the surface, but also the most likely to deflect her stress with snarkiness. And that’s saying a lot because like most people, all four of them use lots of self-aware humor to deflate themselves when talking about their daily woes and stresses. There’s a difference between watching the women in Girls be un-self-aware and dramatic and spoiled and watching the women of Redial make light of their pretty serious issues —
FRIEND: Like the one whose roommate is a horror.
REVIEWER: Yeah. And man I felt like she reminded me of a half dozen silly-on-the-surface-but-emotionally-complex Jewish gals I know personally even if… Uh, well, it might only be that Christine Asero looks like this girl I knew from college…
FRIEND: Can I see?
(You hand over the program. There’s a pause, so you gulp some of your drink and check your phone for messages.)
FRIEND: Wait, it says here Miss Asero is Equity? And Shelby Rose too, huh?
REVIEWER: It’s that kind of play, where it seems so simple and done-before but you notice how much talent and work went into what seems effortless. Jennifer Osborn‘s the one who was understudied, so it’s Catherine Frels here on the cover photo, she’s the Southern one who has to deal with the happy problem of having to choose between two good things.
FRIEND: So Shelby Rose was the one you couldn’t figure out how to describe a moment ago.
REVIEWER: I’ll just say she was awesome. At first I thought hers was going to be the one character I wasn’t going to like, because she’s so “I am Miss Witty and Clever,” but later on she ended up… well, reminding me of myself a lot, which probably says a little too much about me, if you were to see the play.
FRIEND (in a poorly done pseudo-post-Valley Girl affect): Like whaaat, empathy and understanding? What’s thaaat?
REVIEWER: Ha, exactly.
FRIEND: Well I might have to see it then.
REVIEWER: Oh, I convinced you already! Ha ha! So I don’t have go on about how there’s this one awkward story a character tells at the top about a crazy party that’s really unrealistic and I wish it was written out, but that just shows how precise and otherwise sharp the script is; and how, like, phones are how we communicate and stuff these days so —
FRIEND: Oh yeah, on that point, why is it called “Redial” anyways? Shouldn’t it be like “Speed Dial” or “Voice Command: Call Talia” or something? Tell this Tamar Kummel that her play title is out of date.
REVIEWER: Uh, I sure will.
(You get a message on your phone and get absorbed in a text conversation, and when you think to eavesdrop again, the reviewer and friend are nowhere to be heard. You open up your Fringe guide and consider helping to fill the house for the last remaining performance of this show.)
See it if: You’re the type to sit at outdoor cafes and eavesdrop on the passerby, possibly making up stories about what their lives are really like.
Skip it if: When you go to Fringe, you want to see nothing but the weird, the raw, and the unpolished.