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Ethan Now The Universe – Universalist National Memorial Church
Remaining Performances: Friday, July 18 @ 7pm Sunday, July 20 @ 12:30pm Saturday, July 26 @ 3pm Sunday, July 27 @ 12:30pm
They say: “Ethan Now tells the story of the Lansdown brothers – Ethan, successful investment banker with a smart and beautiful wife, and Bradley, struggling writer who has “never even had a girlfriend.” Brought together at their parent’s [sic] beach house for their father’s funeral, this apparently ideal family proves to be anything but.”
Glen’s take: It’s useful to separate Ethan Now (the written play) from Ethan Now (the Fringe staging) and here’s why: The play itself? A fairly conventional bit of business in the dysfunctional-WASPy-family mode that doesn’t go particularly Fringey until about six minutes to the end (and even then only kinda-sorta.)
The physical production, on the other hand, is pure Fringe from the get-go, inasmuch as it’s mounted in a sweltering church basement with notably lousy acoustics (seriously: unless the actors face downstage front and shout — something most of this tentative, small-voiced cast is reluctant to do — entire monologues get swallowed up in a din of echoes).
Director/author James L. Beller, Jr. seems to know what he wants to say about the nature of fraternal rivalry and sexual frustration, but he hasn’t yet supplied Ethan Now with enough structure to say it clearly. As a result, the play hits the same beats repeatedly, a nice, well-acted monologue by the boys’ mother (Susan Holliday) goes on too long, and those last six minutes simply aren’t built strongly enough to support the weight they’re expected to.
See it if: You can bring along headphones and a shotgun mike.
Skip it if: You think sitting in a church basement listening to someone complain about his dysfunctional family sounds too much like an AA meeting.