Alone with Friends is the latest in an on-going collaboration between the Holiday House NYC and the Fundamental Theater Project. Every year, the Holiday House invites designers to decorate a New York City home for the Holidays. This year proceeds go to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation. In the last three years, the Holiday House has also been home to the Fundamental Theater Company’s one act Holiday themed play. Performed on the fourth floor in a large space, this is always a high point of the season for myself as a reviewer. The combination of the Holiday House and a well-done one act is Christmas treat.
|Rob Bradford, Allison Henning, Alison Blair & Blake Merriman in Alone With Friends|
Alone with Friends is a romantic comedy, which puts a few relationship stereotypes to good use in order to weave a complex narrative together in a short amount of time. The play explores the relationship between two long time friends; Adam and Tom, as Tom express a romantic interest in Adam’s sister. Instead of the expected anger or sibling protectiveness, Adam is aghast because his sister Matilda is horrible relationship material. Matilda is a beautiful, slightly out of reach woman that makes men swoon without thought or hesitancy.
Adam also has a semi-girlfriend. Bridget. They have been together(-ish) for a long time and have fallen into some bad habits. Adam, the child of privilege and genial good looks, is the type of all around guy that most men would like to be. Self-confident without being arrogant, he is oblivious to his own short-comings. A trait reinforced by over indulgent friends and family.
But Matilda is the untortured catalyst of the piece. She has an easy beauty, natural flirtatiousness, and an elegant grace that makes the simplest of movements vaguely sexual. There is no question why poor Tom would fall for her, and no question that it will ultimately end badly – it is the when that is still up in the air.
Writer Ben Holbrook has put a ticking clock on the proceeds by having the foursome get ready to travel to Adam and Matilda’s grandparents for the Holidays. And director Nicola Murphy does a good job of moving the action without forcing the pace.
All of the acting is very good, with Rob Bradford’s Adam and Blake Merriman’s Tom doing some great work as long time friends who are breaking out of well-established patterns. Alison Blair’s Bridget is played so well that the audience immediately identifies with her joys and frustrations. Allison Henning handles the difficult role of Matilda perfectly, walking a tight rope of indifference, bemusement and jest. As played in the Holiday House, it seems a stolen holiday moment from a family that is familiar. The combination of the Holiday House and Alone With Friends makes for a great destination this season.
Alone With Friends
Playwright: Ben Holbrook
Director: Nicola Murphy
Cast: Alison Blair, Rob Bradford, Allison Henning, Blake Merriman