I enjoyed The Critic and the Concubine, last year’s Fringe show by the young theater artists who have now formally joined forces as Theatre Corrobora: while it was a little disjointed and stumbled in spots, I admired the promising talent of its ambitious creators and I appreciated its prescient insight about the critic-artist relationship. (Dominic Papatola, on the other hand, thought the complete opposite. Critics!)
Fig represents a big leap forward: it’s a confident, charming, and consistently entertaining show that makes a thought-provoking argument about romantic relationships. Hailey Colwell again directs and takes the lead on writing, apparently with some collaborative assistance from the cast; co-producers Aidan Gallivan and Iris Page again play prominent roles, joined by an impressive Michael Torsch as the confused protagonist Leo.
Leo and Amanda (Page) have been together for four years, now sharing a studio apartment that’s too small to contain the simmering resentments between ad man Leo and artist Amanda. Leo beings dreaming of a mysterious and alluring woman in purple (Gallivan), who begins intruding into his waking reality and providing a welcome distraction from his failing relationship.
Everything works here, from the romantic chemistry—we see why Leo and Amanda ended up together, but we sense the sizzle between Leo and his violet-clad temptress—to the humorous supporting characters (Brian Grossman and Morgan Strickland). Gallivan’s performance is a tour de force of sly manipulation; Page makes Amanda likeable and believable; and Torsch makes Leo a guy we’re surprised to find ourselves rooting for.
Fig is a show in the best tradition of The Twilight Zone: a story that tweaks reality in the service of compelling characters. To steal a line from Jon Landau, I have seen local theater’s future, and it is Theatre Corrobora.