BOTTOM LINE: A man falls in love with a red Ikea drying machine while his wife grives their dead son.
In The Conveniences of Modern Living we meet married couple Agnes and Harold Hutchinson (Maya Baldwin and Rory Sheridan) three years after the untimely loss of their five-year old child. Their grieving process is complicated when Agnes begins to become attached to an adorable mop-topped ten-year old Bobson Bennington (the very animated and talented young actor Zach Palomo) whom she is babysitting. If this isn't enough, Harold falls in love with a red Ikea drying machine who loves to watch classic films and longs to leave the City to go back to the Swedish plant where it was built.
Yes, you read that correctly. Harold does indeed fall for a drying machine, gamely played by actress Jessica Love standing in a cardboard cut out with fabric softener sheets in her hair and a metal dryer duct attached to her arm. And herein lies the major problem of this work. The strange juxtaposition of the absurdity of a man-machine love affair with the couple facing an incredible tragedy do not come together well, and both suffer for it. What should be ripe for hysterics (the love of the dryer and Harold) becomes far too staid, and what should be heartfelt and compelling (the grieving process of the Hutchinsons) becomes tedious.
Towards the end of the play we meet Bobson's dysfunctional and heartless parents (Tavia Trepte and David Ian Lee) and they attempt to infuse some much needed laughter into the script, which they do to a limited degree.
(The Conveniences of Modern Living plays at the Player's Theatre, 115 MacDougal Street between West 3rd Street and Bleecker, through August 28th. Remaining performances are Saturday 8/21 at 9:30pm, Sunday 8/22 at 8pm, and Saturday 8/28 at 12pm. For more information visit www.conveniencesofmodernliving.weebly.com. Tickets are $15 in advance, $18 at the door, and are available at FringeNYC.com, by calling 866.468.7619, or in person at FringeCENTRAL, located at 1 East 8th Street at 5th Avenue. There is NO LATE SEATING for Fringe NYC shows.)