Off-Broadway Review: “Implications of Cohabitation” Flounders at the Clurman Theatre on Theatre Row

August 11, 2016 | LGBT, Off-Broadway | Tags: , ,
Off-Broadway Review: “Implications of Cohabitation” at the Clurman Theatre on Theatre Row (Closed Friday August 26, 2016)
Written by Vanessa Verduga
Directed by Leni Mendez
Reviewed by David Roberts
Theatre Reviews Limited

The Homeless Man (David Pendleton) sums up Nelson’s (Anthony Ruiz) dilemma in a simple phrase, “You should know there are implications to cohabitation.” Nelson is the husband and father of two families and he has not fulfilled either of those roles with any distinction from their beginnings. After the death of his wife Caitlin, Nelson wants to “make nice” with his three adult children and his former lover Carmen (Adriana Sananes). He summons his three children to the Ecuadorian restaurant where Carmen once worked to begin the process of reconciliation and suggests the best way to accomplish regaining their confidence in him is to takes turns living with each of them.

Cohabiting with these three has disastrous implications and provides the storyline for Vanessa Verduga’s play “Implications of Cohabitation” currently running at the Clurman Theatre on Theatre Row in Midtown Manhattan. Nelson finds fault with his two children by the deceased Caitlin: Kevin (Andres de Vengochea) his firstborn son is an unemployed actor who has no interest in joining his father’s business; and Jenny (Connie Saltzman) his third child is a free-spirited punk-rocker. And although his second child Sara (Vanessa Verduga) is a successful attorney, his visit to her apartment results in a mistaken identity fiasco when he walks in on Sara’s ex-boyfriend Jake (James Padric) making a visit after having had a “huge argument” with his gay partner Jean.

Nelson’s attempt to create a harmonious blended family fails and in the process of trying to reconcile with his children after abandoning them, he discovers his need to change. This macho Ecuadorian father simply cannot control his Ecuadorian-American child (Sara) or his Irish-Ecuadorian children (Kevin and Jenny). However, Sara’s upcoming wedding to Ben provides Nelson the opportunity to complete the redemptive process of confession, forgiveness, and reconciliation. Whether he manages to walk Sara down the aisle into a new relationship with his children and Carmen provides the resolution of Ms. Vergara’s play.

Although Ms. Vergara’s characters are well-developed on the page and although the talented cast appears to make every effort to further develop their characters on stage, the overall effect of “Implications of Cohabitation” is akin to a lackluster soap opera. It is difficult to care deeply about anyone except perhaps the Homeless Man played with a gentle caring spirit by David Pendleton, Nelson’s lover Carmen played with a steely resolve by Adriana Saranes, and the deceased Caitlin who had to suffer with Neslon’s infidelity and lack of concern for his children. Gladys Perez rounds out the cast as the waitress and Kevin’s visitor.

It appears the script itself is the problem here as well as Leni Mendez’s erratic and unremarkable direction. Additionally, a couple of the cast members went up on lines consistently throughout this reviewed performance: this requires the remainder of the cast to constantly be prepared to cover and obviously can affect their performances.

With time, hopefully “Implications of Cohabitation” will find its mark.