By Melissa James Gibson
Directed by Daniel Aukin
Through April 5
What's It all About?
Louise (Carrie Coon -- Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, "Gone Girl," TV's “The Leftovers”) is working on a randomized double-blind Placebo-controlled test for a new drug for female arousal. Subjects in the sturdy, like Mary (a charming Florencia Lozano), sign up in the hopes that they will get the real pill, and not a placebo. It seems like Louise herself might benefit form the drug she helped create. Things aren't all that exciting at home with her husband, Jonathan (William Jackson Harper, who delighted in A Cool Dip in the Barren Saharan Crick at Playwrights), though she doesn't seem to be aware of it. When she connects with another PHd candidate at work named Tom (Alex Hurt), sparks fly.
Things deteriorate at home for Louise and Jonathan, who asks her to move out so he can work on his own thesis without interruption. Mary, who experienced awakened sexual interest after starting the study, suspects that it might have been all in her head because she's lost interest in her husband again. She's pretty sure she is receiving the placebo. At least she hopes she is, because if she isn't interested while receiving the real drug, what hope does she have?
What Are the Highlights?
Lozano makes us root for her, even though her part is minor. Hurt is amusing as the socially awkward Tom who wins us over with some vending machine antics.
What Are the Lowlights?
Maybe it's self fulfilling -- the play is a placebo for the real thing. It doesn't have the desired effect of creating characters we care about and a plot that' keeps our interest. The setting of office and home together on the stage (David Zinn designs) doesn't work. Maybe the point is that career and personal life overlap, but seeing elements of the other location in scenes was confusing. Some long moments when Louise sings Louise sings “Placebo Domino in regione vivorum,” Vespers for the Dead when her mother dies. That what placebos -- professional mourners in the Middle Ages sang, you see. Sorry, just not feeling this forced moment.
More Information:Aukin collaborated with Gibson on her play This at at Playwrights in 2009. Lighting design by Matt Frey; sound design by Ryan Rumery.
Placebo plays through April 5 at Playwrights Horizons, 416 West 42nd St, NYC. Performances are Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 7 pm, Thursdays and Fridays at 8 pm, Saturdays at 2:30 and 8 pm and Sundays at 2:30 pm and 7:30. Tickets: www.PHnyc.org.
Christians might also like to know:
-- Sexual Dialogue