“Asymmetric” at 59E59 Theaters (Closed Saturday December 6, 2014)

November 26, 2014 | Off-Broadway | Tags:
By Mac Rogers
Directed by Jordana Williams
Reviewed by David Roberts
Theatre Reviews Limited

There has been “Acoustic Kitty” and “Project Pigeon” in the CIA’s arsenal of operations. Marc Rogers’s “Asymmetric” currently running at 59E59 Theater C adds another: the rather oddly named “Icarus Drone” operation. Mr. Rogers’s tasty espionage drama centers on retired agent Josh (Sean Williams) using his interrogation skills to discover to whom the fifth floor mole has been leaking information about the Icarus Drone project. Unfortunately for Josh, this necessitates the interrogation of his former wife and partner Sunny (Kate Middleton) who has the information the CIA needs to stop information from getting into the wrong hands.

Josh left the Agency and retired to a life of drinking. His relationship with Sunny ended. Now he is called back into action because his former boss Zack (Seth Shelden) knows Josh is the only one able to break Sunny down – despite the efforts of Ford (Rob Maitner) who prefers scissors and pliers and dismemberment to standard interrogation.

The espionage genre has gained popularity in the recent past and television seems hard put to keep up with the demand. “NCIS” keeps parenting spin-offs which garner raved reviews and “Bones” seems to be on an award-winning marathon. With all that espionage exposure, one wonders how a ninety minute drama on a tiny stage could succeed. The answer: it does! Under Jordana Williams’s meticulous and generous direction, the ensemble cast delivers powerful and authentic performances. Their distaste for one another and the government they serve is palpable. Reference to the Presidents of the United States as “Daddies” is powerful.

Sean Williams’s Josh is outwardly broken and compliant but is capable of getting what he wants when he wants and needs it. Kate Middleton’s Sunny is hard as nails and knows her love for Josh has not ended and tried to deflect his interrogation so he can survive. Playwright Rogers writes with his characters in mind and gives them wonderful clues to disclose to the audience that result in a plethora of “Ah-Ha” moments. Seth Shelden’s Zack is mousey when he needs to be and strident when necessary and he cannot keep up with Josh or Sunny. Only Rob Maitner’s performance as Ford falters: Mr. Maitner lacks the grit and grime one would expect in a Ford.

There are delicious twists and turns in “Asymmetric” and it would not be fair to reveal them here. It is enough to know that the drama keeps the audience guessing and attentive throughout. Audience members are so engaged with the play they are afraid to miss a clue – either spoken or written on the face of one of the characters. Listen for the intriguing clue when John warns Sunny not to reveal the location of her gardening lover. Enough said: see this gem before it closes on December 6th.