by Ivanna Cullinan · August 13, 2014
In the ripping apart of two lives, which could be considered the essential action of a breakup, the competition for rightness is rife. Who is in the right? Who is right because the other is wrong? Who has the right to cause this pain or does the experiencing of pain trump that right, making the injured party somehow more right through an ostensible right granted by injury? And all this jockeying goes on under the seemingly banal words of one person wanting to be heard and one person wanting to leave.
Over starts at the end of an all-night break up session. Some anonymous apartment containing two lives (a perfectly spare set by Kevin Myers and director Bryan Enk) and into this flat, achy void come strange pulses of something not quite right. These flickers flash quickly and then subside but something is definitely up beyond the emotional wreckage in front of us. The kid sister Tabitha bursts in because she had to see her sister Nicole now but does not quite know why or, thanks to an altered state, how she even got there (a role to which Becky Byers brings just enough quivery intensity to create concern and continued interest without going too far). The neighbor (played wonderfully by Brian Silliman, an actor who can land a line with such artful precision) is there, and loitering with passive emotional intent but doesn’t quite seem right. The play lobs between the break-up of “good guy” Jack (whom Adam Belvo gives an awkwardness that makes him believable) and the “self-centered” Nicole (a part well navigated by Alisha Spielmann), and the ongoing struggle to understand what is wrong with Tabitha and can it be healed?
But make no mistake, this is no “oh dear God in Heaven, break up already” whine-fest. Elements of the surreal underlie the action, and there is a distant but distinct hum of the ominous that is omnipresent. Every time the play could be expected to go into the dramatically arresting conversation, playwright Dave Chapman deliberately veers back to the ordinary or to the less climatic moment. The text forces the gaze back to the outwardly mundane, forcing the awareness to question and go beyond why to how. How do I get over you? How can this be explained? How do we go forward with what we do not fully understand?
Well directed and designed, Over is a smart dramatic event worth consideration and conversation.