Some plays hurt.
Some plays hurt because they lay bare sad, uncomfortable truths of our existence in a bracing, uncompromising manner. Other plays hurt because you’re so painfully embarrassed for everyone on stage that you are desperate for it to end as soon as possible. Unfortunately, Mike Brayndick’s Symmetry Breaking is one of the latter.
The production is marketed as “an entanglement of art, science, politics and love”. That sounds great! Unfortunately it bears little resemblance to the actual play which is little more than pretentious bathos.
Samantha (Kitty Mortland) a physics professor who also has a passion for theatre. This is the aforementioned entanglement of science and art, because they’re both fundamentally about beauty or something. (Note: Science is not fundamentally about beauty.) On the night of a fundraising party for her old university, Samantha encounters her undergrad boyfriend Brady (Daniel Ochoa) and they reminisce about how they used to act together. Their reunion is intercut with the past relationship of young Samantha (Emma Brayndick) and young Brady. (Mario Cesar). This love affair for the ages is so epic, four actors are needed to portray its past and present simultaneously.
Because the characters were actors in their undergrad days, we’re treated to their renditions of scenes from Shakespeare and Ibsen. This is a very risky move for a dramatist as flawed as Brayndick.
Samantha’s career is also complicated by the machinations of an arrogant former mentor. (Tony Papaleo, one of the few actors able to get through this drivel with any dignity intact). Brayndick seems to want feminist cred because his protagonist is good at math AND she’s a woman!
Awkward actors deliver extremely stilted dialogue. The hoariest, most mindless clichés are spoken as if brilliant new revelations. My favorite is when Samantha and Brady discuss the latter’s Iraq War experience, a sequence which qualifies as a camp classic of unearned gravitas.
“At least you came back in one piece!” Samantha tells him. “Did I?” he asks pointedly. “Sometimes I’m not so sure.”
Symmetry Breaking is two and a half hours of breathtaking irrelevance.