Tape @ June Havoc Theatre, through September 24th
As memory and perception is questioned, a dark truth is revealed in this thrilling, complex, fast-paced and surprising revival of a play, Tape, by Stephen Belber. Tape centers around three former high school friends who reunite. Jon, a filmmaker, is excited to show his film at the Lansing Film Festival, and Vince claims to be in town to support Jon. Vince stalls their dinner plans and convincingly starts questioning Jon about Amy, their former high school girlfriend. As tempers flare the play makes you question morality. All three characters are different from each other but all possess a sensitivity that makes you feel for them even when one character was involved in a questionable event that took place in his past. Tape presents a unique interpretation from a subject matter that’s been talked about numerous times. In its small setting, the dialogue relies more on the reactions from the performers than its actions.
The play doesn’t cover new ground but delivers in ripe material and performances. Neil Holland’s commitment and integrity to Jon was sincere and honest, leaving you feeling sympathetic toward him despite his corrupt action. He wants to make amends with the past but is, at the same time, haunted by it. The beginning leads you to think that he has moved on from what he did until it is brought up. Toward the end, Neil Holland’s frailty and anxiousness shines as you get the feeling he is trapped in Vince’s vengeful plan. Don Dipaolo’s portrayal as the disheveled playful addict, Vince, was direct, spiteful, and comical. He plays hero in the beginning. However toward the end it becomes clear that Vince is in search for relentless answers as to why and what happened that fateful night. Don Dipaolo’s performance exudes power especially when displaying Vince’s inner conflicts, and his comedic timing was perfect. Therese Plaehn as Amy is not as sarcastic as her fellow actors but plays her with a doe-eyed merriment and illustrates a stamina that makes an impression.
The twists and turns leave you at the edge of your seat wanting to know whether the night Jon slept with Amy was consensual or not. The topical subject is drawn out naturally and gives you this feeling of wanting to feel for the characters. Tape comes alive with a vengeful force making you feel like you’re eavesdropping on an upsetting conversation.