On an Average Day is a family-based drama that seems to ask which disintegrates faster — a relationship between estranged brothers or a neglected family home. Both strained and dilapidated, the two brothers talk in circles as they ravage a pungent refrigerator of all of its cheap beer.
Estranged Brothers Finally Connect at Curious
HE SAID: This has to be one of the most lopsided scripts I have seen in a while. In my opinion, first acts are typically less interesting than the second because the writer is doing the work of establishing/building characters and relationships. Eventually, in the second act, we know the people and can go along with them on their journey. In this script though, the relationship between the brothers was broken and disconnected, so in establishing that I found it hard to connect to either one of them, which in turn made it hard for me to invest fully in the circumstances. But, in the second act, something happened. They got past that wall, and moved on with their story. The relationship was still damaged, but it was active and interesting as opposed to defensive and inactive.
SHE SAID: I agree with you that the writing is so fractured that it’s hard to feel any traction or movement, but for me this was especially but not exclusively true of the first act. The play spends most of its time dancing around despair, so even with the improvement in the second act, it was a little difficult to sit through. But for me, the way that Curious handled it made me grateful that at least it was despair done well. In the hands of less capable artists, it might have been nearly excruciating, but in this case there is enough motivation and meaning that it does eventually pick up momentum, which at least made it worthwhile.
Mismatched Personalities Expertly Portrayed
HE SAID: Definitely! The characters in this show are in such an intense relationship from the beginning, it would be easy for a production to go overboard and make the whole viewing experience painful. Curious has taken a show set in such an extreme emotional end of the spectrum, and brought in actors who know how to work with the honesty of the text. Brian Shea as the clean cut brother has a nearly impossible task of responding to his brother for most of the first act with short few word sentences – often times repeating himself. In spite of that, he was able to bring a lot of clarity and specificity to the repetition.
SHE SAID: Both actors were definitely giving their “A” game. Michael Kingsbaker as the more disheveled, scattered brother expertly created his own world and moved through it with purpose, even if it was only apparent to him what the purpose was. Because the show centers around the somewhat mismatched brothers, a lot of the success of it falls on the quality of their relationship. I really enjoyed watching them trying to figure each other out in the first act and coming to raw realizations in the second act, so ultimately their relationship bore the weight of the show quite well.
Design Highlights Despair Beautifully
HE SAID: The scenic design (by Tina Anderson) was appropriately disgusting. I actually was kind repulsed by the state of the apartment, which is the perfect reaction. I also found it interesting that the stage was slightly slanted. It really amplified the imbalanced nature of this relationship. I also appreciated the attention to the tiniest details. A lot of designers remember to have light switches but not power outlets, but they were present in this design.
SHE SAID: What really impressed me about the scenic and lighting design elements was that Bobby fit into his disintegrating environment perfectly. The stained and neglected kitchen in which the entire play takes place was absolutely gorgeous. I never imagined that a house that was dirty to the point of rotting would be artful and captivating to look at it, but it absolutely was. There were some very subtle lighting elements (trees swaying outside the kitchen window) that were beautiful and so realistic that it would be easy to miss them and just assume you were peering into someone’s actual kitchen.
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Emotional Toll is Good Investment at Curious
THEY SAID: This was a bold ending to the Curious Theatre’s season, which included many Henry-award nominated shows such as Homebody/Kabul. A smaller undertaking in comparison, the emotional content of the show was very intense. In setting up the rocky relationship between the only two characters, we had a hard time connecting with either brother as they struggled to connect to each other. But, in the second act, things picked up and bit and we were able to invest more fully to the extreme family story that lies at the heart of this piece.
For a plot synopsis of On an Average Day, see the Curious website. On An Average Day plays through July 23 at Curious Theatre Company. Click the banner above for tickets and more information.