Alan Trinca, Christine Evangelista, Dep Kirkland Photo by Jeremy Daniel
Dep Kirkland’s new drama MsTrial, opened last night at New World Stages. Kirkland is the playwright and star and if you stay past the first act, act is a play that is worth cultivating. However, in its present incarnation, is disjointed and wordy. Kirkland has written primarily for film and television and it shows. MsTrial is like an over written “Law & Order” episode.
Kirkland is John Paris, a high-powered attorney, who never loses despite the fact he is an arrogant misogynistic pig. He is not redeemable, at least in act one. He owns a boutique law firm, where he employs his nephew Dan (Alan Trinca), who longs to be just like him. Dan is jealous of Karen (Christine Evangelista) who is described as sexually irrestiable that men can’t resist her. When she appears Ms. Evangelista is attractive, but not what is described. Karen is smart and driven and the tension between the three has you thinking that Dan swings both ways and is into her, despite he is gay. We are convinced that Paris just sees her as a tool, to be used both in the courtroom and out. His comments about her are inappropriate and demeaning.
The three are in the final round of a case, representing a couple whose young daughter has been killed in a train accident. The strategy of the trial and information of the case has too much data and not enough character building. It is overly written and boring. Suddenly the case is over and a party is held to celebrate. All drink way too much tequila and despite being Karen’s ride home, Dan leaves and Paris assaults her or did he? Was the act consensual?
Act two sees Karen seeking legal recourse. Despite the relationship between the three, Paris retains Dan as his defense lawyer, which seems a massive conflict of interest. Dan claims Karen “wanted” her boss and makes a good argument. Karen’s lawyer, Cathryn (Janie Brookshire), is not exactly on Karen’s side, which devastates Karen. Karen, explains that when a vagina is torn, it is an act of violence. Only the court reporter (Gayle Samuels), leaves Karen with any dignity.
Paris shows remorse, but Dan, who Karen assumed was her friend, is the one who betrays her the most. In the end it’s a ‘good old boys club” and justice does not prevail.
The entire cast improves in the second act, but the acting, as well as the writing in the first act is sub par.
Rick Andosca’s direction does not help this piece. He keeps it a languid pace instead of like a fast paced trial. The show should start with the trial and then let us see and drama unfold. If you combined the last 15 minutes of act one with act two, it would be a much better play.
Bill Clarke’s scenic design is a well designed law office, but it’s not laid out to create tension or clear lines. Mitchell Fenton’s lighting design has a range of emotional feeling and Mimi Maxmen’s costume design is appropriate.
Kirkland’s drama has been kicking around since 2002 and still has not become the explosive legal drama it needs to be. The premise is a good one, this show just needs some expert rewrites.
MsTrial: New World Stages, 340 West 50th St.