Review of Slouch at Yale Cabaret
Room-mates. Living with people one is not related to but with whom one forms a kind of ad hoc intimacy is typical of life in college. And after college? What kind of relationships are established by living a perpetual “post-collegiate” experience? That’s the situation of B. Walker Sampson’s Slouch, staged at Yale Cabaret by co-directors Stella Baker and Matthew Fischer with a good sense of how to create movement and flow in this highly verbal play.
Three roommates, Fletcher (Jake Lozano), Skye (Emily Reeder), and Summer (Marié Botha) have in common an interest in their former college BMOC Gordon. But more than that, they have an almost preternatural ability to narrate each other’s actions and habits and obsessions and anxieties. The laughs in the show depend a lot on the hyper-critical tone the girls direct at the hapless slacker Fletcher—who loses his job basically for daydreaming—and the way in which they try to spin their less than stellar activities as efforts at self-discovery, such as Skye’s decision that, to learn the violin as she has always dreamed, she would have to buy a farm first.
Summer, who seems to have admired Gordon from afar, is certain his upcoming visit—to get back his copy of Tom Waits’ Swordfishtrombones LP from Fletcher—will entail dinner, which she is keen to prepare. And that sends her on a slapstick visit to the supermarket where the enacted cross-purposes of various narratives are hilarious. Botha plays Summer as kind of hyper-aware ditz, much more insightful about others than she is about herself.
Fletcher, who is lackadaisical about his roommates, as he is about much, tends to fret because Gordon has far exceeded Fletcher’s own meager accomplishments. Lozano’s Fletcher seems used to being none-too-swift, and is put upon by the girls for his mopey, dopey guyness. Eventually Summer seems to soften toward him, showing more sympathy than we would expect from her.
Skye, whose story includes a visit to Nantucket in the rain to meet with Gordon only to be stood up, ends up the eternal onlooker as Fletcher and Summer seem to bond over their need for something outside their own heads to be attentive to. And that’s the main take-away here: growth requires taking other people seriously, not simply as spectral reflections of one’s own agenda. Of the three, Summer seems maybe ready to make a move—if not for the sake of Gordon, then maybe for Fletcher, who could certainly benefit from someone finding him something more than a cipher.
Don Cogan’s scenic design creates lived-in-looking areas for the trio to bat around in, and Fischer’s lighting and Tye Hunt Fitzgerald’s sound design add many nice touches, while Brittany Bland’s projections provide atmospheric art on the window center stage, including raindrops and street scenes that become eloquent in helping create mood for this quickly shifting play.
The main effect of Slouch is of a kind of madcap pinball game of the mind, with words and phrases zinging around inside the heads of characters who occasionally are surprised to say aloud what they hear so insistently inside. It’s as if everyone lives with a constant logorrhea that can spill out into the audible almost involuntarily. Which makes actual dialogue seem like it is always in the middle of a stream of thought—a very apt demonstration of how conversation proceeds in the midst of a barrage of IMs, texting, and scrolling. In its ear for how the distracted generation live and love, Slouch is no slouch of a play.
By B. Walker Sampson
Directed by Stella Baker and Matthew Fischer
Dramaturg: Ariel Sibert; Scenic Designer: Dan Cogan; Costume Designer: Jamie Farkas; Lighting Designer: Matthew Fischer; Sound Designer: Tye Hunt Fitzgerald; Projection Designer: Brittany Bland; Stage Manager: Emely Selina Zepeda; Producer: Melissa Rose
January 21-23, 2016