Isabel Richardson and Bob D'Haene in THE THREE TIMES SHE KNOCKED. Photo by Josh Jones.
BOTTOM LINE: A well-acted two person psychological thriller about obsessive love.
Tara (Isabel Richardson), a recently hired employee, is young, beautiful and newly-married and, from the moment he first laid eyes on her, co-worker Eric (Bob D’Haene) has been absolutely smitten. Indeed, not merely smitten but obsessed and not just with her physical beauty but with her “transcendence.” His love for her is not of this world but is on an entirely different plane.
Eric felt this way once before about another female co-worker eleven years ago and that didn’t work out well at all. But he has learned from experience and won’t allow himself to slip into a situation like that again. And so he does whatever he can to avoid any contact with Tara unless absolutely necessary: when he sees her coming, he turns the other way or ducks into an office or cubicle; if he’s invited to join a group of co-workers for lunch and he learns that she’ll be part of the group, he begs off; if she initiates a conversation with him, he makes every effort to cut it short.
Tara quickly becomes aware that Eric is avoiding her but she doesn’t know why. Understandably (albeit mistakenly), she assumes not that he is obsessively in love with her but, rather, that he hates her or that she must have done something to offend him. And so she confronts him to find out just what is going on.
Not surprisingly, Eric is reluctant to disclose his feelings to her at first but, as she persists, returning time and again to his office (and always knocking three times, hence the title of the play), he explains his actions to her, ultimately going so far as to share his innermost fantasies with her. That, in turn, triggers a reaction in Tara and an odd but strong sexual tension develops between them, one lacking in physical contact but akin to what might be experienced through sexting or phone sex.
And that is about all that I can safely tell you about the plot of The Three Times She Knocked, the Flying Squirrel Theatricals production now playing at Manhattan Theatre Source as part of this year’s Fringe Festival, without running the risk of ruining the play for you, since there are still some unusual twists to come that you’re better off not knowing about in advance. But I can tell you this: the chemistry between Richardson and D’Haene is terrific, both of their performances are pitch perfect, and this play is well worth seeing.
(The Three Times She Knocked plays at Manhattan Theatre Source, 177 MacDougal, through August 25, 2011. Remaining performance is Thursday, August 25th at 9:15PM. Tickets are $15 and are available at fringenyc.org. For more info about FringeNYC visit fringnyc.org.)