The Interview has the potential to be a really special play, but the story needs more than the 55 minutes it has, even if the whole performance is a conversation between two men.
At work behind a sewing machine at his New York City tailor shop one evening, 62-year-old Abraham Moscowitz’s (Larry Levinson) day is rudely interrupted by James T. Shannon (Jeff Mocho), an insurance investigator tasked with making sure Moscowitz isn’t lying on an application.
What follows is an interrogation that reveals the tailor’s most deeply-held secret, and some truths about himself that the investigator can’t ignore. There’s a lot of gold hidden in that premise, but the play, written by Peter Swet, was never able to really unearth it.
Levinson’s Moscowitz is masterful and sympathetic, and it’s a puzzle why Shannon has such threatening outbursts towards the tailor from the moment they meet. We learn a lot about the tailor throughout the play, but very little about the investigator, whose behavior begs for back story. Is Shannon an anti-Semite? Does he hate old people? Is he Satan? Is he God?
While there are hints at Shannon’s story — a rat-race type of job where he serves the richest Americans only to remain middle-class himself — the reasons behind his anger aren’t really explained, and it doesn’t help that each of his outbursts is accompanied by lightning, making the question of why all the more apparent.
Given Shannon’s animosity, the fact that Moscowitz so easily reveals the most painful part of his past also seems a bit unrealistic.
The play is set in 1973, but other than serving as a timing device for Moscowitz’ background, you wouldn’t know it by the dialogue, despite a lengthy description about the social turbulence of the 1970s and the Vietnam War era by director Wayne Nicolosi in the program booklet.
I think I know what I’m supposed to learn at the end of The Interview, that trying to forget a terrible past will only make it that much more painful. I think I’m also supposed to reflect at how people deal with the horrors of war, using stupid human tricks like anger, humor, and denial.
But I don’t feel any of those things. I mostly just feel sad for the tailor and puzzled by the insurance man.
The Interview has 6 performances, ending July 28, 2012, at Redrum at Fort Fringe612 L St NW, Washington, DC’
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Lisa rates this 3 out of a possible 5.