Sometimes a metaphor can become so muddled it is not even worth examining. In Brett Neveu’s newest play, the act of writing fiction is exposed for the sausage-making that it is. Intentionally clichéd characters barge through the front door of a writer’s cramped nest of an apartment and refuse to leave. On the phone, a persistent caller insists the writer has just won a modest grant—a windfall that is more insidious than a promise of free cash. The play could easily be called “The Writer’s Nightmare,” but in truth it is something closer to an audience nightmare. Self-induced claustrophobia has never been this excruciating, and the repetitive dialogue only reinforces the airless quality. (Buried in the script, almost as an afterthought, is Neveu’s precision of language and impish sense of humor.) Directed in a frenzy by Brennan Parks, the production feels wobbly and unsure; to compensate, the actors amp up the volume. It is not for a lack of skill—the ensemble is made up of proven talents—but here they give very loud, very large performances that are completely out of scale with A Red Orchid’s tight confines. It is like watching someone try to stuff a pit bull inside a matchbox. (Nina Metz)
This production is now closed.