Scott Caan’s new play, No Way Around But Through, making its debut at the Falcon Theatre in Toluca Lake, is described in publicity materials as being a dark romantic comedy. There’s not really a lot of darkness or comedy in evidence, but there’s a lot of talking.
Caan plays Jacob, a thirty-something, self-described “caveman” who, when confronted with the news that his on-again, off-again girlfriend, Holly (Robyn Cohen), might be pregnant, goes into paroxysms of angst.
She also wants a deeper commitment from him, but he balks, explaining that his upbringing at the hands of his cold-hearted mother, Lulu (Melanie Griffith), has rendered him emotionally bereft.
Unable to see eye to eye, they part company, with Jacob seeking reassurance from his pal, Frank (Val Lauren, also the director), as Holly looks for hope from her best friend, Rachel (Bre Blair). They come to the same conclusion — they must go to see Lulu, the source of Jacob’s misery. Holly thinks that meeting Lulu will help her to understand Jacob better while he wants to initiate a confrontation with his mother to achieve a kind of catharsis. Of course, all paths collide at Lulu’s house, forming the crux of the story. Indeed, the play’s theme of converging and diverging roads is reinforced by the scenic design, with roads painted on the floor and projected on the back wall.
Caan seems to be going for an improvisational feel with his work, but more often than not, the characters talk in circles and — stretched out over two acts — it becomes rather tedious. And, despite the fact that everyone is damaged in one way or another, emotions get lost in a sea of psychobabble in which each of them seems to be trying to out-abstruse one another.
That said, there are a few nice moments. A first-act scene between Holly and Rachel has some authenticity as Rachel confesses her dislike for Jacob even as Holly reveals that he’s her last stop on the road to potential happiness. And, in the second act, Frank suggests to Rachel that they leave, and Jacob hopefully asks, “You and me?”, giving voice to his desire to escape back into the world of men, away from feminine emotions he can’t comprehend.
There aren’t really any complaints to be had in the production itself, with the exception of Griffith’s sphinxlike performance, which is so low-key that there’s no way to determine her character’s motivations. Ultimately, No Way is and too vague and overlong to provide a real dramatic impact, and the frustration lies in contemplating the road that might have been taken.
No Way Around But Through plays Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sundays at 7 p.m. through July 8, 2012, at the Falcon Theatre, 4252 Riverside Drive, Burbank. Reservations can be made online or by calling (818) 955-8101.
Photo: Chelsea Sutton