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Paulanne Simmons

“Everythings Turning Into Beautiful” Goes Nowhere

“Everythings Turning Into Beautiful”
Directed by Carl Forsman
The New Group
Acorn Theatre at Theatre Row
410 West 42nd St. between 9th and 10th avenues
Opened July 17, 2006
Mon. thru Fri. 8 p.m., Sat 2 & 8 p.m.
$51, $21 (212) 279-4200 or www.ticketcentral.com
Closes Sept. 2, 2006
Reviewed by Paulanne Simmons July 29, 2006

The main question to ask about Seth Zvi Rosenfeld’s new play presented by The New Group, “Everythings Turning Into Beautiful,” might be which is worse, the dialogue or the music, if there weren’t an even bigger mystery: why did a director with the talent and taste of Carl Forsman (“The Good Thief,” “In the Matter of J. Robert Oppenheimer” and founding artistic director of Keen Company) decide to helm this piece of trivial nonsense?

The play is about two lonely songwriting partners, Brenda (Daphne Rubin-Vega) and Sam (Malik Yoba). They both have had limited success in their careers and almost no success in their love life. But while Brenda has no one as she approaches forty, Sam has several children he is devoted to, if only theoretically.

It’s Christmas Eve, and Sam, having endured the harrowing experience of being dragged into court for child support, has walked the length of Manhattan to tell Brenda at 2 a.m. that he loves her. Brenda has her own problems, which are as numerous as they are vague and confusing.

The couple first has sex and then sets about forming a relationship. In the 21st century that seems to be the way to do things, at least onstage.

Rosenfeld’s meandering script might have been given some life by actors who had reach and imagination. But Rubin-Vega and Yoba exhibit about as much depth as a wading pool for toddlers. Rubin-Vega’s idea of acting consists of romping around the stage, swiveling her hips, pouting and trying to look sexy. Yoba’s is shrugging his shoulders, displaying his muscles and gazing helplessly at his hands.

“Everythings Turning Into Beautiful” takes its title from one of the songs in the play. It is sung first in its original form and then as it was remixed. It seems that Sam is happier with the more optimistic, remixed version. But by the time of take two, most people in the audience have probably forgotten take one. And this is perhaps the best song Jimmie James wrote for the show.

Good writers explore relationships through action and character, not through an endless discussion about the possibility of forming a relationship. At the end of “Everythings Turning Into Beautiful,” the audience knows little about either Same or Brenda other than their disappointments in love. Do they have other interests besides music? Do they have sisters, brothers, parents whom they love?

Those who think there’s more to life than finding someone to sleep with may find that somewhere in the middle of “Everythings Turning Into Beautiful” they fall asleep, and it doesn’t matter who’s next to them.

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