The More Loving One
by Cory Conley
directed by Craig Baldwin
La Mama First Floor Theatre
The More Loving One, Cory Conley’s acidly funny new play about love and commitment, represents a rare niche within FringeNYC – the serious comedy that aims for gravitas (and achieves it) but which inspires big laughs without resorting to empty punch lines.
The action centers around Matt, a college professor whose testimony against a good friend and colleague accused of a sex crime has just concluded prior to the start of the play. Matt and his wife Lauren, an artist, are in the heat of sexy-angry passion when their roommate, Heinrich, a gay grad student, enters with his longterm boyfriend Henry, the cuter of the two, though he’s far from an airhead.
The niceties continue, mostly, on the surface, though barbs and resentments arise between the four friends as the two central relationships, one gay and one straight, shift and evolve in unexpected ways. As a way of cutting to the heart of the drama, Conley fragments the timeline of the play’s events. As we shift away, in a number of scenes, from the present day, we find our notions of the current situation subverted in new, interesting ways.
In a production superbly directed by Craig Baldwin, a cast of four uniformly capable actors impresses. David Beck, who may be a tad young to portray a college professor, nonetheless has that gratingly earnest quality of overexcitement we’ve come to expect in astute academic types in plays. As Lauren, Adriana Degirolami is his cooler, wiser foil, with Jimmy Davis and Preston Martin turning in similarly thoughtful performances.
As the play proceeds, it becomes clearer who the “more loving ones” are; Conley has thoughtfully drawn his title from a poem by W.H. Auden. Those who thoughtfully consider their relationships, Conely posits, ultimately end up on top. In its honest, funny exploration of modern-day love and old-fashioned romance, The More Loving One proves to be one of the most refreshing plays in this year’s Fringe Festival.
Remaining Shows: SUN 28 @ NOON
– Richard Patterson