Reviewed by Bob Greene
How many times have we all walked out of a movie or play and asked “what do you think will happen to…[whomever the lead, villain, or put-upon character happens to be].”
Jane Beale and Ronnie Cohen have answered that question for us in CORRECTION. They also gave us a unique character that is the lead, villain, and put-upon character all in one and then gives us her future.
The play opens with one of the actors breaking the fourth wall to – in essence – apologize for budgetary and script issues. While this seemed an odd choice, minutes later the play begins and we enter into sequences of how we stereotypically expect the filthy rich to behave. We meet Dr. Darling and event planner Rothschild in an over-the-top exchange about just how much a wedding can cost when cost is no object. One can then assume the narrator’s humility was brought about as she expected to be speaking to like-moneyed souls.
Prior to the culmination of the first half of the play, the turning point occurs: Thanks to a newspaper “correction,” we learn that Dr. Darling is not. She has lied about her fame, your money, and even her schooling; thus loosing the husband part of that extravagant wedding, her far-too-busy-being-rich-to-care-about-their-kids clients, and finally her freedom. The second half of the play describes how this scandal-maker rises from the pit of fraud that she dug for herself.
While the play could use some editing to sharpen the focus, Jane Beale and Ronnie Cohen has written a clever character study of one woman’s hubris. It’s refreshing on many levels that this villain is a woman. While some might find it objectionable, one has to admit that it reflects on feminine success in business that they now can become such a dubiously-moraled character. Elizabeth Belonzi carries the phony Dr. Darling through a wide range of emotions, holding our interest and giving us the wide-eyed realizations that such a journey demands; William McAndrews playing Sheldon, her wealthy husband – wealthy – complete with expert delivery on lines depicting his disgust at her obvious middle-class demeanor. Rebecca Smith gives Bunny, Sheldon’s friend and confidante, enough earthiness to create chemistry between the characters; while Jasmine Webb was stunning, natural and strong as Dr. Darling’s friend after the fall. Rivka Borek supplied us with some early get-comfortable laughs as the event planner who plans to spend a lot of money. While Lauren Brickman was very funny and quite commanding as the narrator, the play did not truly need one and at times her appearance seemed out of place. it also weakened her characters’ grand entrance later in the play. Narrators only work as outside characters when even the ending is a flashback.
Renee Rodriquez managed to keep the action moving at a brisk pace but would have faired better with less furniture and properties. Many short scenes created scene changes that slowed the action. Also, while her staging gave us some strong imagery, the configuration of the theater made intimate moments hard to view at times. Maybe less setting and more toward the back wall placement could have solved that.
The authors – one can see – follow in Moliere’s footsteps in lampooning the privileged in front of the privileged. CORRECTION – with some literary tweaking – stands to make a strong impact on the new plays arena.
Bob Greene is a former playwright and retired history professor. He’s had works presented in New York and regionally since 1978. After a short and unhappy stint at Newsday, he is delighted to write for several online services.