“False Solution” by Oren Safdie
at La MaMa
Through intellectual and heady art-talk, personal interests collide when an attractive Ivy League first-year architecture student shakes a world-renowned architect’s plans for a Holocaust museum in the slums of Poland in the 1990’s. It’s unfortunately no surprise that this sexy student is a young blonde female intern who primarily uses her looks to get what she wants. Regardless of the stereotypical power structures between the two, Safdie brings to question the social impact of architecture as memoriam in daily life. What is the most appropriate way to memorialize a genocide and furthermore, who deserves to make this call?
The play takes place in the design studio of Jewish-German architect Anton Seligman (Sean Haberle). His contemporary design for a Holocaust museum commissioned by the Polish government is a done-deal, or so he presumed. His aesthetics and motivations are challenged by the architecture firm’s bright-eyed and eager intern, Linda Johansson (Christy McIntosh). Polite and timid at first, Linda eventually divulges her disapproval of Anton’s blatantly transparent design. There is neither poetry nor metaphor she disputes; in addition, she accuses him of relying on former fame versus fresh creativity. It’s excitingly unclear why Linda is so deeply invested in this project, but time tells. The two spend the remainder of the evening locked away in the studio, catapulting into heated philosophical art debates about a design that would be worthy of its purpose.
As personal secrets rise to the surface, sexual tension boils when Anton’s cerebral nature is met with Linda’s more physical and emotionally-centric design process. It seems as if she is what Anton has been missing and he doesn’t hesitate to feed off of her energy. Haberle’s display of wavering self-confidence with a slight air of egotism fits the part perfectly. In fact, both Haberle and McIntosh are an impressive duo in terms of chemistry and delivery. Each theoretical verbosity flows out of them with commitment; especially during several of McIntosh’s monologues that more closely resemble a dissertation abstract.
From this vein, the diction was academic, poetic, and valuable, but I’m not convinced that the story begged for staging. Perhaps it could have been more effectively told in a novel. The roles of the stale male teacher and the sexy female student who propels him out of his mid-life crisis are over-done, even though the subject of architecture is new. While evocatively articulate, it lacked agency on the stage and it wasn’t clear as too why audiences today must bear witness.
“False Solution” continues through June 30th at La MaMa’s First Floor Theatre, 74a East 4th Street, 212-475-7710, lamama.org.
Originally Published on Showbusiness Weekly: http://showbusinessweekly.com/article-2285-%E2%80%9Cfalse-solution%E2%80%9D-by-oren-safdie.html