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Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Fantasy Figures

Theater Review

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  The story of a perpetually engaged man and woman having an open love affair with a pair of imaginary fantasy figures closes out In Tandem’s 10th anniversary season. Jeremy Desmon’s The Girl in the Frame plays at the 10th Street Theatre through June 15.

  Simon Jon Provan plays a guy named Alex who never seems to get the time he needs with his fiance Laney (Alison Mary Forbes). When she is called away on business, he is left to fantasize about a girl in a stock photo from a picture frame (Courtney Jones) who comes to life to entertain him. When Laney returns to the apartment, she is soon caught up in her own fantasy with a model from a fireman calendar (Travis A. Knight).

  Aside from the big number at the top of Act Two, followed by a song shared between the two fantasy figures, the music here isn’t particularly memorable. Desmon’s dialogue, however, has a savvy comic cadence to it that is cleverly brought to the stage. Alex’s relationship with his fantasy-woman never seems quite as interesting as it should be, but this is largely a problem with the script. Jones and Provan have difficulty capturing the extended relationship between these characters because it is so ill-defined by Desmon. That being said, both put in charming performances.

  Forbes and Knight put in much more impressive performances, aided immeasurably by the better half of Desmon’s script. The romantic fantasies of women are far more established in pop culture, so they’re far easier to satirize. Laney puts her fantasy through a series of personalities and nationalities. The first act ends with a clever parody of every Disney love song in a duet entitled “Pinch Me,” brought to the stage with comically inspired form by Forbes and Knight.

  Forbes continues to show she’s got a beautiful gift for comic acting as her instincts sharpen some moments that might otherwise have been stiflingly unfunny. This is probably the biggest role Travis Knight has had since getting his BFA from UWM, which may have contributed to opening night jitters reported elsewhere. By Thursday’s performance he was in top form. This is a perfect showcase for Knight, who gets to play at least three different characters as Laney’s fantasy changes.