[ Metro | Metroactive Central | Archives ]

Class Ceiling

Pat Kirk

Tenant's Wrongs: Wendy Koshnevis (from left), Michael LaMere, Julia Kapp and June Alane Reif get in touch with their emotions.

'I Am Yours' confuses the social strata

By Heather Zimmerman

With its jaunty title, I Am Yours sounds like it could be one of those goofy musicals about the foibles of romance. Although it does explore some of the less attractive aspects of love, Judith Thompson's brutal drama is hardly the romp its title implies. The play focuses a group of variously dysfunctional people: Dee (Julia Kapp), an unstable artist, and her long-suffering husband, Mack (James Berry); Dee's perennially unloved sister, Mercy (June Alane Reif); Toilane (Michael LaMere), the bigoted super in Dee's building who has a crush on her; and Toilane's meddling mother, Pegs (Wendy Khoshnevis). Raymond (Joseph Dones) adds some background information as a sort of pedophile who showed Mercy some attention as a schoolgirl. As if this combination of characters weren't trouble enough, real calamity arises when, after a one-night stand, Dee finds herself pregnant with Toilane's baby and unwilling either to keep it herself or to allow Toilane to keep it. Pegs immediately identifies a class issue behind the putatively middle-class Dee's refusal to let working-class Toilane raise their baby and files a lawsuit for custody.

Although consistent mention is made of class issues, the emphasis the play places on class isn't quite matched by City Lights' production. The two spaces where most of the action takes place--Dee's modest apartment and Toilane's smaller and messier but relatively comparable dwelling--attest to slight differences in their lifestyles. In fact, in the fight for the baby's custody, the play itself wavers between a class argument and a tentative venture into the sticky issue of fathers' rights. If anything, Dee's reluctance to give her baby to Toilane comes off more as a result of her total emotional instability than a concern with social status.

The play belabors the point that, deep in our dark, little hearts, we're all beasts, most clearly demonstrated by Dee's constant, seemingly inexplicable tantrums, her raving references to the "animal behind the wall" and such. There are precious few characters in this play who don't get to throw a screaming fit or at least have a freaked-out, semiconscious experience. Although it's easy enough to mark class obsession as the root of Dee's mental illness, you have to wonder if it's that selfsame affliction that also makes so much in the lives of Mercy, Toilane and Pegs warrant a yelling match. The actors follow their characters right to the edge and work hard to make these unlikely folks at least believable. While the actors all allow raw emotions to bubble easily to the surface, technical necessities, such as diction, are sometimes sacrificed to the passion of the moment--rampant shouting often distorts the lines behind comprehension, and thoughtful murmuring makes the words unintelligible at other times.

I Am Yours plays Thursdays-Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays at 7pm through May 12 at City Lights Theater, 529 S. Second St., San Jose. Tickets are $10-$13.50. (408/295-4200)

[ Metro | Metroactive Central | Archives ]

From the April 25-May 1, 1996 issue of Metro

This page was designed and created by the Boulevards team.
Copyright © 1996 Metro Publishing and Virtual Valley, Inc.

Foreclosures - Real Estate Investing
San Jose.com Real Estate