*Note: by the time of this review's publishing, this show has closed.
BOTTOM LINE: This show, about recovering from Leukemia, has merit and it clearly means a ton to the playwright who survived the disease himself.
Recovery follows Michael who, after finding out his girlfriend left him for his best friend and then trying to commit suicide by standing in traffic, discovers at the hospital that he is not, in fact, dead from the hit but he has Leukemia. During treatment, Michael meets Kathleen, a high-strung, type-A, bossy brat of a woman who also has Leukemia. They form a bond even though they are acerbic and rather ugly to each other and eventually grow even closer. We also meet his nurse and doctor a little more intimately than one would expect.
The story is not just about recovery from illness, but also from loss, confusion, bad choices, abandonment and insecurity. It's about rekindled hope in feeling and finding the worth of loving when time seems so short. It's about figuring out your life, in whatever shape its in.
But speaking of shape...this production wasn't always in the best of it.
I appreciate the minimal set which consists of two chairs and two white hospital panels that shifted from angle to angle to create new space for each scene. It was unfortunate, however, that the scene shifts were more tedious than the simplicity necessary for the show; I found myself wishing they had been rehearsed more. The costumes, however, are simple, yet quite appropriate and to-the-point.
The four characters are played by four adept actors, but throughout the show performances seemed forced and more "acted" than real. I found this to be a disservice to the piece because the play asks its characters to travel an arc that they don't earn, in my opinion. I'm not certain if the writing never allows for it, or if it just wasn't found among the players. So I found myself kinda not caring.
Regardless, there is merit in this piece: Mark Jason Williams truly feels for this story, having been a survivor of Leukemia himself, the play becoming a bit of a therapeutic love song to the process that comes after the discovery of the big C. There's heart in the writing, that's for sure, I'm just not sure it's fully developed yet.
(Recovery played at The Gene Frankel Theatre, 204 Bond Street, as part of the Planet Connections Festivity. For more show information visit planetconnectionsfestivity.com/shows/recovery.)