Review: 'Morphic' a resounding success

10/03/2003

By Lawson Taitte / The Dallas Morning News

ADDISON It takes a while for Morphic Resonance to get going. But eventually it morphs into one of the most, well, resonant of recent plays.

Rover Dramawerks artistic director Carol M. Rice saw the world-premiere production of Katherine Burger's drama in Los Angeles in 1997. Since then, it has had three additional productions, including one at London's Donmar Warehouse that led to a BBC radio adaptation. On Thursday, Rover opened the play under Ms. Rice's direction at Addison's Old Stone Cottage.

Ms. Burger follows the relationships of two couples who are each other's best friends. In the first scene, Cleome (Jessica Wiggers) and Wallace (David M. Dixon) meet in a New York bar. You can tell from the start that this romance will be a prickly one. The subject of Cleome's rich Daddy (Bill Parr) arises almost immediately.

Cleome talks to her ex-dancer friend Alice (Allison McCorkle) about Wallace. Wallace discusses Cleome with his best pal, Jim (Kenneth Fulenwider), a regular guy as opposed to the arty other characters. Both Alice and Jim are gun-shy about getting involved again. When they finally agree to go out on a double date with their friends, they are as surprised as the others at the chemistry that is generated.

Early on, Morphic Resonance is hard going. Ms. Burger has structured her play into tiny individual scenes, hardly longer than blackout sketches. Given the Stone Cottage's spatial limitations, long pauses separate the scenes to allow for set pieces and props to be brought onstage. Surely, one sighs to oneself, somebody could have designed a unit set that could accommodate the various locations, leaving something to the audience's imagination.

The playwright also gets a little distracted by some gimmicky techniques. A few scenes are played over again in alternate versions. Some are done almost as comedy routines. Monologues and symbolic action scenes also pop up.

Down deep, though, Morphic Resonance is a realistic study of some quite interesting characters. As they build up momentum, the scenes get longer and more compelling. By the end, Ms. Burger has told a story of novelistic complexity in the course of little more than two hours.

Ms. Rice's production is Rover Dramawerks' most satisfying to date. In the early scenes, the women seem more assured than the men. In fact, Ms. Wiggers and Ms. McCorkle are well-nigh perfect. The men, happily, get better as they go along.

E-mail ltaitte@dallasnews.com

Morphic Resonance, presented by Rover Dramawerks at the Old Stone Cottage, Addison Conference and Theatre Centre, 15650 Addison Road, Addison, Thursdays through Saturdays through Oct. 18. Runs 135 min. Tickets $12 to $16, with discounts for students, seniors and STAGE members. Call 972-849-0358, or e-mail tickets@roverdramawerks.com.



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