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2/21/14

I Liked The Correspondent Because...Reasons, I Guess

If any of you have ever watched a Ryan Murphy television show (Nip/Tuck, Glee, American Horror Story), watching Ken Urban’s The Correspondent will evoke a similar reaction.


I made this correlation after Philip - who is wrecked with grief and guilt after his wife just died from getting hit by a car - forgives Mirabel, a woman who just confessed to scamming him. How was she scamming him? In exchange for some cash, she claims to take a hand-written note with her as she ascends to heaven because she…is supposed to die, or something. And then Philip is to wait for an e-mail from the afterlife, because dead spirits have gmail and great WiFi apparently.

Enter Ryan Murphy syndrome. Why would Philip, a senior partner lawyer, engage in this not-at-all suspect plan in the first place? Because reasons.

And after confessing to the scam, why do both of them make out, shack up and start planning their futures together? Because reasons.

And when the dead wife is reincarnated into a much younger man (because reasons), why does this scammer relationship get cast aside in an instant so Philip and his wife-turned-younger male can resume a semblance of their marriage? You guessed it….reasons.

I'm telling you, Ryan Murphy syndrome. Setting up these interesting character/plot dynamics, but instead of addressing these (obvious) questions and fleshing out the story, The Correspondent moves on without even attempting to break the surface. The result? Inconsistent characterization and erratic pacing. Maybe we were led to believe that Philip's lapses in judgement can be chalked up to his grieving and being confused and vulnerable. But talk about stretching credibility and even if this is the route Urban wanted to go, the writing should have indicated as much.

Ironically though, I wound up enjoying The Correspondent in spite of these “show ruining” plot holes. It doesn't exactly add up in my head and I’ll admit to getting pissed off at Urban for Murphying, but the show is high-concept and I was so glued to the stage as the story unfolded, I can’t say I’m not willing to move past the obvious flaws (after pointing them out, of course).

I’m in a grieving atmosphere on a regular basis and right away, the show had that “who died?” mood from the get-go. Steven Brackett directs the show with a slow-boiling suspense that overcompensates for some tonally-off moments and narminess. And when all else fails, Jordan Geiger turns up right on cue. His performance as a formerly dead woman trapped in a man's body (I'm smiling as I type that, by the way) was so on-the-nose and perfectly understated. Just watching him tidy up the apartment and shuffling around in a housedress made for a nice late-in-the-game rally.

Honestly, send a dramaturge over to the Rattlestick Theater because when I left, I turned to Courtney and told her I was a little sad that the show was over. And in a rare admission, I wished the under 100-minute The Correspondent was longer so the show can BRING. IT. Or at the least, try to bring it. On a critical level, the show fails...but if I enjoyed myself, it couldn't have failed all that much.


Ticket Provided By the Production


Photo Credit: Ruby Washington/The New York Times

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