Frame 313 Review: A Smart and Quirky Thriller

Some people are addicted to drugs. That would be too easy for Mark Lifton.

He’s addicted to the story behind former president John F. Kennedy’s assassination.

Mark is the protagonist in “Frame 313,” an Off-Off-Broadway production written by Bill Zeffiro and directed by Sasha Bratt, ends up a solid production thanks to a well-written script and plenty of attention to detail.

At first, the production’s synopsis made it seem that it would be a more serious play; it wasn’t. It had a more comical feel with quirky jokes. Sometimes there would be a sex joke; other times jokes referring to famous people from the 1960s that even I didn’t understand. The older crowd in the audience, which was about 90 percent of the crowd, understood many of the references, which made it more enjoyable for them.

The play exhibits great character development, as they face struggles between the integrity of their friendships based on conflicts that regard their priorities.

Mark and his friend, Ed Meagher, are your two average blokes… Except they spend their days drinking cheap six-pack beers while repeatedly discussing the assassination in Mark’s tiny, clattered apartment.

“Frame 313” shows the struggles that Mark, a young adult who makes his living playing piano at a small restaurant, faces as he is required to choose between living a settled-down life with a woman he meets at a bar, or to continue his obsessive life devoted to the Kennedy assassination.

The play begins with two women, Sylvia Ford and Megan Payne – probably the most opposite of human beings, yet somehow still good friends – sitting in a local bar drinking. Mark and Ed arrive and attempt to sit down and strike up a conversation with the ladies.

Megan, a total virago, has no patience to deal with any guys at this point of time, especially in a bar scenario, which makes her stereotype against men being players more believable to her. She has no temper and continuously “bops” Ed in the head- to the point where Ed leaves the bar angrily. However, Sylvia finds Mark interesting and she persuades Megan to leave the bar, so that Sylvia and Mark can be left alone.

From there, Mark and Sylvia develop feelings for each other. As Mark would sing to himself at home, “Oh Sylvia.”

As an Off-Off-Broadway production, the production requires imagination from the audience. There were no huge scene changes and the set stays virtually the same throughout. The props on the stage were mainly of Mark’s apartment and whenever scene was located outside of his apartment.

Away from the few attempts at scenery, the acting made the play more believable. Mark definitely played the addicted role well – even thinking about the assassination while having sex with Sylvia. At times, Mark would forget any important things needed to be accomplished regarding his and Sylvia’s personal lives because of his more important matters regarding the assassination.

Mark’s apartment has walls taped with pictures, documents and writings of information behind the assassination. Bookcases stacked with texts of JFK and his assassination and videocassettes on the aforementioned topic fill the entirety of his apartment.

Sylvia moves in with Mark in hopes of him changing. However, as much as Mark wants to, the obsessiveness overrides his goals of settling down.

Sylvia struggles with Mark and his addiction. She supports him and how passionate Mark is of the assassination, but she realizes that it becomes too much for her. Sylvia would go out of her way – showing admiration of Mark’s unusual obsession – to buy books and gather information of JFK, but Mark doesn’t understand Sylvia’s small gestures.

This annoys Sylvia- Mark doesn’t seem to understand why, but they continue to love each other – possibly because both haven’t necessarily had a long-lasting love.

Another character in the play, Anthony Prospero, author of the “Bullshit” series who wrote 16 of them on Kennedy and the assassination, calls Mark and tells him to visit Anthony.

Mark mailed Anthony everyday for the past seven years – writing long letters filled with inquiries of Kennedy’s assassination – and receiving a phone call from Anthony meant the world to not just Mark, but Ed as well. Hands trembling, yelling of excitement and their glimmering eyes demonstrated their madness.

However, Mark has to make a decision – one that is truly life changing. He was required to choose between visiting Anthony, which is a four-hour drive, or fly to Florida with Sylvia for their engagement party – both choices which puzzled Mark because he didn’t know which was more important.

Sylvia changed Mark substantially and his obsession slowly decayed throughout the play. As he spent more time with Sylvia, so his choice of visiting Anthony, or flying out to Florida became more difficult.

“Frame 313” follows a great plot, contains instances of climax, witty and humorous moments, a enthusiastic ensemble cast compatible with their roles that looked like they became their characters and accommodated the allocated budget for the production.

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Armin Rebihic

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