Went to the Geffen Theater last night and saw a most interesting Australian play (premiered in Melbourne). “The Gift” centers on two couples, Sadie (Kathy Baker) and Ed (Chris Mulkey), very successful franchise owners from Los Angeles, and Chloe (Jamie Ray Newman) and Martin (James Van Der Beek), struggling intellectuals from New York.
Chloe and Martin win a vacation to a fancy resort where they meet Sadie and Ed, a comfortable, but bored, pair celebrating their 25th anniversary. The two couples quickly become good friends over several bottles of wine and mojito pitchers…a bond later solidified when Martin saves Ed’s life, after he falls off a sailboat in a sudden storm.
Ed offers Martin a gift…anything the younger couple wants for saving his life. They refuse at the time, but promise to meet one year later and tell Ed & Sadie what they want most. Without giving away the ending, let’s just say what Ed & Chloe request will surprise, if not anger, most members of the audience.
Minimum set serves the play well, as most of the action is left to the actor’s abilities and the audience’s imagination. Kudos to all four actors who put their heart and soul into the performance. From the front row at the curtain call, it was easy to note the emotional/physical commitment to the final ten minutes of the play on their perspiring faces, especially Kathy Baker and Chris Mulkey.
There were several laughs last night in this “dramedy,” sometimes from the lines, sometimes from being uneasy or embarrassed. I guarantee you will talk about relationships and responsibility in the car on the way home. We did.
“The Gift” is playing at the Geffen Playhouse (10886 Le Conte Ave, Los Angeles, CA) through March 10. Tickets are $47-$77. More information located at GeffenPlayhouse.com.