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A CurtainUp Review
The Director

Nothing seems real right now. . . — Sadie
The Director
Donal Brophy and Lauren Shannon in The Director. (Photo: Joan Marcus)
The Director by fledgling playwright Barbara Cassidy, has a good idea at its core. A well-known film director is stalking the Lower East Side, telling random women on the street that they'd be perfect for his next movie—only to seduce them and move on. One of these women, Sadie, decides to interview his castoffs in preparation for a theater piece about the experience. This could be powerful and multidimensional, playing with reality even as it examines ideas about sexuality and accountability. Unfortunately, it's an unstructured, inchoate piece about sexuality and accountability.

Sadie, the central character, is obviously deeply disturbed by her brief encounter with the director (described by her friend Milton as a "smarmy, jerkoff con man"), though she refuses to admit this to herself or others. She places an ad in Backstage to track down other women who have been approached. Interviews with respondents follow. As her theatrical project gathers steam, the rest of her life spirals out of control. Eventually, the project becomes completely dominant at the expense of all of Sadie's personal relationships. We know this only because what little structure the play possesses disappears by the end of the play. Granted, this is probably intentional, but the play's message and characters become lost and we're left with a muddled, ambiguous mess.

It's a shame for the Flea is one of my favorite theaters and the Bats are some of the finest actors in the city. Lauren Shannon is an arresting Sadie. She crackles with (misplaced) energy and passion, but it's the equivalent of chewing tinfoil in the dark—lots of sparks, with no fire. The best part of the show comes from her friend Milton, played to perfection by Catherine Gowl. She is the weight that keeps the play from spinning off into chaos. Milton is a warm and funny woman who is desperately in love in Sadie, but also realizes the futility of her feelings. It's a tragic love affair that never happens, much like the development of this story.

The concept of the casting couch is not new, and neither is the idea of men trading their power for sex. What is new is that The Director's women all buy into it. They flirt with the director, wink at his lewdness, then call him a cad when he moves on to the next. And a cad he certainly is, with an apparent predilection for getting underage girls pregnant. The other male figure Sadie's boyfriend, Snake, is violent and jealous so he too is not a winner.

Video installations by Dustin O'Neill are visually exciting, but serve no real purpose in either plot or character development. The Director cries out for a good one, or at least one with a firmer hand. A good dramaturg would do wonders, as well.
So many intriguing ideas are put forth but remain unexplored—not the least, Sadie's musings on the proactive role the women all took in their own seductions. Let's hope Cassidy's next play is more solidly structured and developed. With time, she could be a force to reckon with.

The Director
Written by Barbara Cassidy
Directed by Jessica Davis-Irons
Cast: Lauren Shannon (Sadie), Catherine Gowl (Milton), Donal Brophy (Snake), Barnett Cohen (Shoot), Jackie Chung (Angel), Pernell Walker (Bones), Havilah Brewster (Nina), Leslie Meisel (Becky), Gamze Ceylan (Annie), Kristen Ryan (Girl), Alexis MacNab (Mother), Liz Wisan (Es), Drew Hildebrand (Man), Dalton Wiles (Little Sadie)
Set Design: Neal Wilkinson
Costume Design: Chloe Chapin
Lighting Design: Peter Ksander
Sound Design: Jill BC DuBoff
Video Design: Dustin O'Neill Running Time: One hour and ten minutes, with no intermission
The Flea Theater, 41 White Street; 212-226-2407
02/21/07 to03/31/07
Tickets $20; Schedule varies, call ahead
Reviewed by Jenny Sandman based on March 14th performance
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