In My Pockets
I know people in the show and saw a very early draft of the show.
Lights were minimal. Very minimal. I think we were treated to weird, blocky, blue and purple lights once during a musical number. It would have been nice to have been transported out of this dingy office building at some point during the story.
The 90’s costumes had a fun flair, but they disappeared and became less specific and nostalgic as the play progressed. By the end, there wasn’t much to place the clothes in time.
For a two location show, I wish we could have seen the shifts in Christine’s (Alex Keiper) life reflected in the spare office of Touchtones, as well as her modest apartment.
There was little to no choreography, even in the musical numbers. Mostly people standing and singing at each other. Which worked better at moments when the blocking was more specific. The most exciting choreography (Melanie Cotton) done in the piece, was a circle around Christine (Alex Keiper) while everybody tried to awkwardly put a feather boa around her shoulders. It’s very strange to leave a musical not remembering even one song.
Emmanuel Delpeche is really wonderful at creating dynamic stage pictures, even with non-physical performers, but the direction lacked specificity. As a result, the pacing and the experience were flat .
It’s hard to talk about the performances because the script doesn’t give the performers much to do. Alex Keiper brings energy and sincerity to a one dimensional character. Michael Doherty mugs throughout most of the show, until the last scene where he shines with vulnerability, but it feels out of place. Out of town actor Darick Pead fares best as douchey Brad, but he is given a song about unleashing his Latin lover “Marco” that is really cringey. The rest of the cast is given stereotypes that they, not surprisingly, don’t bring much energy to.
This old-fashioned script is another case of “let’s focus in on the white people problems while the people of color poke their heads in every once and awhile to help” At one point, that literally happens.
People of color, and the one queer character onstage, are turned into stereotypes. Hetero, white, relationships are idealized. The Hispanic character has an abusive husband. The “quirky” office chick is living with her sister, but given no other attribute. The strong black woman in charge takes care of her grandson because her child is out of the picture. And the straight, white, dude is the liberator and love interest.
Also uncomfortable is the fact that the central couple is fixated on virginity and a woman’s purity. The script probably thinks it’s being very progressive, liberating it’s female lead by having her work at a sex phone hotline, but at the end of the day, she still promises to explore marriage with her jerk fiance, even though they haven’t really resolved their infidelity issue.
It’s clear this piece was written for a very specific (see also: older and rich and white) audience. It’s frustrating that Arden subscribers walk out feeling like they’ve done something edgy by seeing the same play they always see, and never having their ideas or norms challenged in any way.