SALT LAKE CITY — The fun thing about the Great Salt Lake Fringe Festival is the leaps taken in performance that would not be allowable in a more conventional setting. Resolved, produced by Company of Cohorts and directed by Trayven Call and Suni Gigliotti, is such a show because it disbands the notion of the 4th wall entirely and invites the audience into the living space of its main character, Roxy.
A group of friends meet to throw a wild New Year’s Eve party, and the audience is allowed into the party. (I was given a “shot” and ushered into the room.) Audience members were invited into a large dance, offered seating on couches, and given refreshments throughout. I liked the ambiance this offered, and immediately worked to dispel any tension that might have existed between the audience and performers. My only qualm with the audience interaction was that it felt limited. I would have liked more opportunities for the group to be invited into the play’s action and made more integral to the storytelling. This convention might have made more sense if utilized throughout the show, and not right at the very beginning.
The story itself was intriguing and offered a the little slice of life. Roxy (played by Hannah Minshew) becomes an unwilling host to a New Year’s Eve party, with her apartment, being unfortunately trashed by the party goers. Her friend Erin (Manda Corbett) seems to be the instigator of the wild night. Erin has her sights set on getting a New Year’s kiss from a pretty little British girl, though is thwarted when a friend brings along a blind date for her—to whom Erin falsifies her identity. A particularly bro-ish guy decides to compete with Erin for the honor of winning said British girl over. Matters only grow more wild when a couple uses the party as an attempt to set a personal record for the most rounds of sex in one night, though the high occupancy of the party makes it difficult to find a place to get it on. Everything comes to a dramatic end when Roxy’s ex-boyfriend comes along, and the real story of their breakup is revealed.
While I liked the action in and of itself, the play attempted to wrap everything with a neat little bow and impart some didactic theme on top of the evening. This attempt drew me out of everything I’d just seen and made me remember I was watching a show. Had the idea of New Year’s resolutions been present throughout Max Huftalin‘s script and a more natural tone been given to the ending, the play might have wrapped more neatly. As it stood, the dialogue felt completely natural right up until the end, when a heavily scripted feel dominated the tone. I thought this was a shame, given how grounded and connected the previous moments leading up to this felt. Overall, I was pleased with this production, but revisiting the script and finding more ways to involve the audience might bolster the performance.