Perched on two rooftops, side by side, a sweet odd couple fights their way across the divide of generations and actual air space towards a kind and gentle salvation. Weaved delicately together by playwright Erin Mallon (The Other White Meat), Mile Square Theatre and The Collective NY‘s The Net Will Appear, directed with a sure footed balance by Mark Cirnigliaro (MST’s Goodnight Moon) graces the secondary stage at 59E59 Theaters with a thoughtful warm hug and a gentle laugh. It’s kind and emotionally true, speaking sweetly and innocently of love, attachment, and loss in a way that feels authentic and engaging. It floats across the separating space, designed with clarity by Matthew J. Fick (59E59’s Connected), with detailed costumes by Peter Fogel (Inviolet’s Pride and Sensibility), sincere lighting by Justin A. Partier (Florida Studio’s Rich Girl) and Jenn Burkhardt (Producer’s Club’s Scum), and a clear sound by Sean Hagerty (Third Rail’s Then She Fell) on the wings of both Mallon and Cirnigliaro, but born on the backs and bodies of two very different but connected souls.
Richard Masur (Broadway’s Lucky Guy), a familiar face that you instantly feel a strong affection for plays Bernard, an older pony-tailed seemingly curmudgeon seeking solitude within a liquor bottle on his rooftop. We aren’t quite sure what he is trying to escape at first, but it has something to do with mousetraps on his tree and the anxiety he elicits when he peers into his bedroom window speaking softly and caressingly to an angry woman, most likely his wife, that sits inside. For a quick moment it doesn’t ring all that honestly, especially when he tries to bellow at the world and its birds through a raspy strained voice, but quickly and without warning, he slides comfortably into the skin of this man as easy as he plops down into his backyard chair refilling his glass from the bottle in his cooler. It’s a beautiful balanced construction that envelops this figure and draws us inside his pained persona. This is obviously a recurring space he finds himself in, until Rory, played with a miraculously sense of purpose and honesty by the very talented Eve Johnson (Paper Mill Playhouse’s Annie), climbs out of her window and demands to be heard.
It’s clear she is in need of connection, most desperately, and the obviousness of the dynamic that builds over the next 100 minutes is hard not to see clearly and know, but “do me a solid” and just believe me when I tell you this tender and emotional entwining of two souls in need is worthy of your time and your heart. Johnson is a charmer, building enthusiasm, emotionality, and engagement with a force that can’t be denied, “excelling in all three“. It’s lovely to watch this young actress do her thing on that small rooftop stage, and their emotional entanglement resonates, even as the piece and the story is “Gettin’ dark“. Mallon gives us her own brand of the Odd Couple, fascinating and real. A perfect gift of clarity, love, and kindness for the holidays. Do yourself a sweet favor and move in across the street, climb out on to your rooftop, sit back, and fall for The Net Will Appear. And don’t worry, you’ll be caught in its gentle and safe embrace before you even know it.