By: Paulanne Simmons
August 7, 2018: Statistically, less than fifty present of marriages in America will end in “death do us part.” This depressing prediction is the theoretical basis for Gianmarco Soresi’s semi-autobiographical show now at 59E59 Theaters. Less Than 50% is directed by Jen Wineman, and features Soresi as himself and Hannah Hale as his long-suffering on-again-off again girlfriend, Laura.
The somewhat thin plot centers on Soresi’s creation of a Fringe show based on his life and his girlfriend’s attempts to get him to commit. The scenes careen loopily from rehearsal to real life in a way that sometimes confuses the audience. One suspects that’s deliberate. But the real problem is Soresi’s life is just not that interesting (certainly not worth 100 minutes, although the program says running time is 80 minutes) and Laura’s strategies are much too obvious.
But the good news is that Hale and Soresi (a nouveau Woody Allen, far more likeable and much less creepy) are both talented comedic actors, and many of the scenes (some of which use projections and videos in a highly creative way) are engaging. What’s more, Sorensi, who has performed in such well known venues as Carolines on Broadway and West Side Comedy Club, is a formidable standup comic. In fact, even at the show’s most sluggish moments, his standup skills often come to the rescue.
As we follow Gianmarco and Laura from high school drama class to adulthood, it becomes apparent early on they are stuck in a relationship that refuses to adapt. They are both too needy and refuse to grow up and get on with life . At first, this is cute, but after a while it gets annoying.
At one point in the show Laura tells Gianmarco, “…this play isn’t about us, it’s about you figuring out a way to make me fall in love with you over and over and over again, so you can keep relying on me and kissing me and fucking me and dumping me without ever losing me.” By now, the audience has realized this many times over.
But Laura is not wrong. If the play had been a little more about Laura and a little less about Gianmarco, it would have been far more complex and layered. The lesson for emerging playwrights: sometimes you have to give up a little to end up with a lot more.
Less Than 50% ***1/2
Runs through Sept. 1 at 59E59 Theaters, www.59e59.org.
Running Time is 1 Hour and 20 Minutes with no Intermission