Sunday, August 22, 2010


Written by Paul Weitz
Directed by Peter DuBois
Starring Zach Braff, Bobby Cannavale, Sutton Foster, Ari Graynor
Performances through September 12, 2010

Second Stage Theatre, 305 West 43rd Street

Opening his comedy Trust in an S&M parlor is certainly of a piece with Paul Weitz's previous credits like American Pie and American Dreamz, movies catering to the lowest common denominator by both exploiting and ridiculing their characters' every last foible.

Protagonist Harry, unhappily married internet multi-millionaire, is so desperate for any sort of intimacy that he hesitantly enters the dark lair of Mistress Carol. In walks Prudence as the Mistress—wearing knee-high boots and rubber skirt and with a whip in hand—whom Harry finds very familiar. “Did you go to Stuyvesant?” he asks after she demands boot-licking from him. She concedes that yes, they went to high school together, and they're soon having a cup of coffee, with Harry discovering she's as emotionally scarred as he: her sophomore-year neck brace was due to a car accident that killed her dad.

Meanwhile, Prudence lives with Morton, a lazy thug who brutalizes her whenever he's not cowering at her intellectual superiority, while Harry's wife, frigid, unhappy Aleeza, no longer responds to her rich husband, and cares not if she'll end up with any of his fortune if they split.

Weitz moves these damaged characters around each other for two acts and two hours that aren't as shocking or blackly comic as he hopes. Trust takes its time setting up relationships based on domination, humiliation and mistrust (the title's ironic, you see), and it's a given that these people will have their worlds flip-flopped by play's end. The more intriguing second act picks up the first's listless pace, but no one here is really worth caring about—the two women are slightly less annoying than the men—and Weitz sets up back stories for Harry and Prudence that remain tantalizingly unrealized, both dramatically and psychologically.

Peter DuBois' slick direction covers script holes that include unlikely behavior needed solely to further the plot (particularly Prudence and Aleeza's last scene together amidst the S&M paraphernalia). And the cast does its level best to gloss over the many weaknesses in characterization: Zach Braff has a hangdog charm as the heel Harry, Bobby Cannavale nearly makes Morton more than a totally loathsome jerk, Sutton Foster's innate adorableness turns Prudence into a dominatrix with a heart of gold; and Ari Graynor stunningly embodies Aleeza from frigidity to new-found assertiveness.
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1 comment:

brady said...

Just sat with your Mom at our "Sloan High School Reunion" last Saturday night in West Seneca.
It was great seeing and conversing with her after these few years since we've been out of High School.
She is so proud of you and your interesting work. My wife, Diane and I wanted to say hello and we will be following your reviews with great interest. Brady