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Copyright © 1997 The Seattle Times Company
Entertainment News : Saturday, March 8, 1997

City's annual theater feast hits the boards
by Misha Berson
Seattle Times theater critic
The Seattle Fringe Theatre Festival is off and running, with more than 300 performances by 70 troupes spread across nine venues (eight on Capitol Hill).

We checked in on the opening night of the festival, sampling three typically diverse shows. Look for more reviews of the fringe festival in Monday's Scene section and next Thursday in Tempo. For tickets to all shows, call 320-9588 or visit the Central Box Office at the Broadway Performance Hall, Broadway and Pine.

Theatre Review: "SPLIT" At New City Theater, 1634 11th Ave. E. Plays Saturday at noon, Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., March 15 at 5 p.m.

In Michael Weller's 1978 play, "Split," a youngish married couple named Paul and carol impetuously decide to divorce - an act that stuns and unsettles their immediate social circle.

Performed by the Repertory Actors Workshop, in a version relocated from Manhattan to Seattle, "Split" glibly and sometimes astutely pinpoints certain tensions, dissatisfactions, insecurities and thinly masked rivalries in this middle-class, childless baby-boomer set.

Yet despite some updating, the 85-minute play often feels like yesterday's angst. And about midway through, Weller's script beghins to resemble a particularly rambling and insular episode of "thirtysomething" - the navel-gazing yuppie TV soap-drama it presaged.

The multi-ethnic ReAct cast, under David Hsieh's direction, struggles unevenly to find the right balance of wiseacre humor and vulnerability ripping through "Split's" short, pithy scenes.

But in the long flashback that closes the play, what's truly dividing the thinly drawn Carol (Gigi Jhong) and Paul (T.J. Langley) remains maddeningly general and uncompelling. Consequently, we get a generational case study of a failed union, not a living, breathing marriage whose dissolution really hurts.

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Copyright © 1997 The Seattle Times Company. This page was reprinted with permission by ReAct.