No matter how intently you pay attention, No Way Around But Through doesn’t make a lot of sense.
Billed as a “dark romantic comedy,” this new play by actor/playwright Scott Caan is intermittently comic but persistently cranky rather than dark. As for romance, Caan and his costar Robyn Cohen do nothing but whine at each other. Talk about no chemistry!
She loves him and she thinks she may be pregnant. He says he loves her, but he is commitment-phobic and horrified at the thought of a baby. So instead of talking about solutions, they attack each other. She claims he doesn’t listen. “Everybody talks but they don’t listen to each other---or themselves,” she says.
Then they go on to demonstrate that thesis by talking at cross-purposes, in non-sequiturs, and in metaphysical psychobabble.
His problems, it turns out, revolve around his mother---a vicious, bitchy narcissist who has spent her motherhood denigrating him. This role is played by Melanie Griffith, who is so miscast as to be even more ludicrous than the role itself.
Ms. Griffith, presumably channeling Brigitte Bardot, plays the mother as a zany, coy little cutie-pie, giving the distinct impression that she must be really annoyed at being cast as the mother of a son as old as Scott Caan.
Caan is an excellent actor, and so is Cohen, but their endless bickering, which goes on for two acts, is repetitive and less than gripping. They are complemented by Val Lauren and Bre Blair, both excellent, who play their best friends. Lauren also directed.
Keith Mitchell, an award-winning set designer of films, theater, and TV, has provided a less-than-award-winning set here. Two bedrooms, a couple of living rooms, and an on-stage motorcycle provide the ambience for the goings-on, but a background movie screen that fills the whole stage provides a projection of a boring road through an endless plain of brown grasses. The highway markings onscreen continue onto the stage to divide the ever-changing set, but it is an unattractive distraction. I imagine that the road is meant to symbolize Caan’s character’s need for escape and freedom, but in the scenes set indoors the road is still visible (although darkened and altered by the addition of moon and stars).
No Way Around But Through, convoluted and wordy, can be categorized as an earnest effort but an impressive flop. Produced by the Falcon Theatre and The Mineral Theater Company, it is having its world premiere at The Falcon Theatre, 4252 Riverside Drive in Burbank and will run Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 4 and 8 p.m., and Sundays at 7 through July 8th. For reservations, call (818) 955-8101.