BOTTOM LINE: Tragedy befalls a young couple and they're left to pick up the pieces. The story is told in non-linear vignettes so the audience actively tries to stitch the pieces together themselves. Stitching is well-executed in performance and production, but the subject matter is pretty disturbing. If you're okay with squirm-inducing theatre, this is most definitely a play to see.
Stitching comes to New York from a successful run in London. The story involves a couple, Abby and Stu, who are dealing with their tumultuous relationship after experiencing a tragedy. Both are scarred and scared, and the audience learns the nature of each character as we see them deal with what's thrown at them. The story is told in a brilliant non-linear way, and although it's easy to follow, questions always linger in the air as to which character is the victim and what's really going on. Playwright Anthony Neilson weaves a clever story complete with a moment of clarity when you realize the truth was always right under your nose. This is truly exciting theatre and well-crafted storytelling.
The play stars two actors with extensive credits and experience, Meital Dohan as Abby and Gian-Murray Gianino as Stu. Dohan is Israeli and is most recognized in the States from her role on "Weeds" as Yael Hoffman, the sexy rabbinical scholar. Gian-Murray Gianino is a seasoned American stage actor, most recently seen in Eurydice at Second Stage. Because these actors are so talented in their art, they are able to make their characters palpable; their chemistry is hot and their attention is intense. This is important, since the actions these characters go through is extreme and could easily fall into the trap of unbelievability.
Stitching is referred to as "in-yer-face theatre." This is a British genre with the name coined by a British theatre critic; although it's not quite as recognizable in America, modern playwrighting is frequently confrontational and aggressive in the same sort of way. In-yer-face theatre is a kind of theatre where what happens on the stage and in the story is disturbing, sometimes gruesome and usually uncomfortable. The idea is to include the audience on the emotional ride and ask more intense questions about life and morality. In-yer-face theatre is often thought-provoking and interesting, and it's definitely not passive. Stitching is certainly confrontational and makes the audience personally invested in the story. Regarding the original British production, Time Out London said "I left the theatre with my pulse, and my mind racing." That's a pretty accurate description of how this piece of theatre gets under your skin.
I really enjoyed this play, and I had a lot to talk about when I left the theatre. I definitely recommend it to anyone who likes intriguing story-telling that keeps you engaged and leaves you affected when its over.
(Stitching plays at The Wild Project, 195 East Third Street between Aves. A and B, until July 19. Mondays and Tuesdays at 7pm, Wednesdays-Fridays at 8pm, Saturdays at 2pm and 8pm. Tickets are $45 and can be purchased at www.ovationtix.com or by calling 212.351.3101. Student Rush tickets are $10 and are available for purchase at the box office (cash only) 2 hours before each performance. Visit stitchingtheplay.com for more info.)