★★★½☆ - Satisfying
Las Vegas Little Theatre dives head first into "The Siegel," Michael Mitnick's, modern- day, yuppie romcom, presented on their main stage through the weekend. Directed by Kyle Jones and Hallie Lyons, it's full of amusing moments, moves at a brisk pace, and has a nice design aesthetic that highlights the millennial perspective. And while the energetic cast has a knack for capturing Mitnick's sarcastic and witty banter, the show feels flat and lacks immediacy, partly because the premise of the story is just very strange.
The title of the 2017 play is a homonym for Anton Chekhov's classic "The Seagull," which Mitnick emulates with themes about love and destiny, though he never manages the subtext needed to flesh out those ideas. At the start we are thrust abruptly into the plot, and it takes a few minutes to get our bearings as we are confronted with a frenetic Ethan Siegel in the living room of the befuddled Ron and Deborah. He has shown up out of the blue to ask for their daughter Alice's hand in marriage, because he loves her and it's the proper thing to do. The problem is, they broke up two years ago and now she lives happily with her boyfriend Nelson, who she slept with before she and Ethan split. Undeterred, he continues his relentless pursuit.
Living with regret, the consequences of the choices we make, and the paths we take is a theme that is touched upon throughout the play. Is Ethan chasing an idealized romantic love that exists only in his imagination so that he can rewrite his own history? The enigmatic, weird Ethan is a difficult role to play. But we all know the guy that actor Jake Taylor brings to life with his portrayal. He's that childlike, hyper dude with zero self-awareness, who has no filter and no concept of the boundaries of another's personal space. But he's cute and poetic with a kooky charm, so we tolerate his shenanigans. While Taylor doesn't always seem comfortable inhabiting Ethan and doesn't find much nuance in the character, his energy is unwavering and he truly embodies that annoying guy we all love to hate.
Alice is Ethan's opposite, and Shana Brouwers captures her pragmatic yet reflective nature and nails the many sarcastic lines that roll off her tongue with ease. A former campaign manager for a candidate who lost a recent presidential election (ahem), Brouwer's regret is palpable as she pines not for Ethan but for what could've been without that failure, which has shaped her identity and outlook on life. We don't get a glimpse of the mutual affinity the two might have shared while a couple until later on, during an intimate dinner and a tipsy walk afterward. And while those scenes are pleasant enough, there really isn't much chemistry there.