Presenting his new play, â€œEasier Said Than Doneâ€ on the stage of the Paradise Factory, playwright Paul John DeSena keeps the audienceâ€™s attention by unraveling the conflict one thread at a time. Learning more about the characters, we eventually get to the roots of their problems with each other, which are deeply set in the past.
With every new detail added like a spice to the recipe, we follow the action closely and donâ€™t have a boring moment throughout the performance. This effect is quite amazing, considering that the play tackles marital infidelity, a common topic in literature and theater, and that there are only four characters, two married couples, who have been friends for years.
As far as infidelity is concerned, in Mr. DeSenaâ€™s play it raises the issue of trust, which cannot be restored when broken. Repeatedly coming back to the saying, â€œlet bygones be bygones,â€ the playwright shows that these words are easy to say but hard to act upon. Cheating on oneâ€™s spouse and betraying oneâ€™s friend are similar crimes, for which one cannot expect to be pardoned.
Unfortunately for Nathan (Michael Rehse), he believes that his good deeds will compensate for his bad deeds, and he lets himself run over other people for his benefit, hoping that time will heal the injuries, and everything will be fine again.
However, Nathan is not the only villain in the show. On the contrary, all characters have significant flaws, which makes the play even more interesting, for no one ends up being the audienceâ€™s favorite. At the same time, we feel for each of them when we find out how they have been wronged, and we want happy ending for everyone. This keeps us in tension and eager to find out how the conflict will be resolved.
In addition, if we follow the actorsâ€™ facial expressions and gestures, we will understand what the characters leave unsaid. For example, when Nikki (Emily DeSena) changes the topic and looks away when she talks to Nathan about her husband, Justin (Christopher Stokes), cheating on her, we realize that she knows more than she is willing to share.
Nikki also seems to be the smartest and the most sensitive of all. She always knows what is going on before anyone else does, and she pulls back or comes forward whenever the circumstances require. Nikki does not fight or make scenes, which makes her seem like a pushover. Yet, she uses her cunning to achieve what she wants, which earns our respect â€“ if not admiration.
Finally, it is most entertaining to watch the characters making fun of otherâ€™s vices while also being guilty of them. For instance, Justin criticizes Nathanâ€™s frugality, as though he is not greedy himself. Despite his unhappiness with Nikki, he cannot think of divorcing her, afraid to anger his father and lose his prospects for inheritance. Instead, he cheats on his wife and makes his lover pay for the motel because he is always â€œshort of money.â€ As this example demonstrates, it is easier to see other peopleâ€™s shortcomings than do something about oneâ€™s own.
Thus, although the play could be perceived as didactic, no one beats us over the head with morals. Quite the opposite, we get to figure out what the playwright teaches us and come to our own conclusions. And if we donâ€™t care to learn any lesson from this play, we can just sit back and enjoy a slice of someone elseâ€™s life. Like being on a rollercoaster, we get to experience the thrill of ups and downs and the satisfaction of landing, while feeling safe from harm in our theater chairs.
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