Directed by Michael Nankin
Reviewed by David Roberts and Joseph Verlezza
Theatre Reviews Limited
The NY International Fringe Festival is presenting “Ryan Is Lost” a new play by Nathan Wellman which is an intriguing, interesting and brooding two character drama. If one could imagine, it would be the offspring of “Waiting for Godot” and “The Zoo Story.” It is absurdly provocative as it slowly retrieves simmering emotions to the surface, allowing a boiling pain and intense relief.
Waiting here are Avis and Frank – an odd couple if ever there was one. Claiming to be sister and brother with a (perhaps) abusive father and one with a parole officer, they wait on a bench in a shopping mall for their nephew Ryan who has wandered off and not yet returned to the designated meeting area. As they wait, they engage in a marvelous nihilistic rant whose tragicomic content would make Samuel Beckett and Edward Albee proud.
Whether they are related or whether Ryan is even real matters not. Avis and Frank are strangers in a strange land unable to reach out to traditional constructs of protection and surcease. What matters is that they have found a safe place (for now) to protect themselves from the slings and arrows of their outrageous fortunes. Ryan’s being found might only make that sweeter still.
The two actors (Brittany Allen and David Haverty) are a force to be reckoned with, creating invisible shackles that bind them together, sharing, hoping, wanting and waiting for a savior. When there is an emotional eruption it shakes their stability and causes tremors and aftershocks which after a while become comfortable and easily ignored forbearers of doom. They are intense, ever present and draw breath from each other, sometimes suffocating, other times liberating but most of the time creating a vacuous void where they are safe. Ms Allen is remarkable, never missing an opportunity to carve another facet into her complex character (Avis) and with every turn shows strength, vulnerability, fear and an undetermined faith that everything will be all right. Mr. Haverty is an equal match, with an unbridled performance, infusing his character (Frank) with fervor, subtle delusion, survival and impetuous emotional outbreaks.
Michael Nankin deftly directs this production keeping a tight rein, never allowing it to wander, confining all the energy in a bombshell waiting to explode.