Fault Lines @ Dorothy Strelsin Theater, New York

cast list
Anais Alexandra, Jenna Doolittle, Rebecca Louise Miller, Tobin Ludwig

directed by
David Epstein
Something has broken apart in Rebecca Louise Miller’s new play Fault Lines, a brief but ambitious play with a cast of four and a unit set that ultimately bites off perhaps more than it can chew. Focusing on three childhood friends – Bethany, Kat, and Jessica – who witnessed the abduction of their friend Nina by a mysterious man named Smith, the play is only an hour and ten minutes long and still manages to be simultaneously bloated with ideas and short on feeling.

As the play begins, perfect housewife Bethany is welcoming hippie misfit Kat to her perfectly-groomed home after a long time apart. The two are gathering, we soon learn, because Nina’s abductor is about to be executed. Jessica, the founder of a non-profit called the Nina Foundation, dedicated to finding abducted children, arrives soon thereafter, BlackBerry in tow, inadvertently bringing with her television news reporter Grayson, who’s eager to film an interview with all three abduction witnesses.
Miller’s script, though well-constructed, remains remarkably surface-level. The three women seem like poorly-rendered types, resigned slavishly to their housewife, hippie, and businesswoman character traits. Worse are the performances on display. Though Tobin Ludwig acquits himself well as Grayson and Miller herself seems to understand with relative ease the character of Jessica, Jenna Doolittle overacts woefully in the ditzy role of Bethany and Anais Alexandra is full of one-note rage in the role of Kat, failing to find any shades of uncertainty beneath Kat’s angry exterior.

The conflict of the piece, superficially revolving around whether or not Grayson should interview the three women, ultimately never amounts to much in terms of dramatic heft. Grayson remains, for the most part, a sketchy secondary character. The interview eventually does take place, but the implications of the interview are hardly explored. Though there are some thoughtful explorations of various types of faults, Miller – as well as director David Epstein – obviously began with an intriguing story but have ultimately constructed a paint-by-numbers play.

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