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November 10, 2013
Review: An Infinite Ache
Photo by Lawrence Ballard
Photo by Lawrence Ballard

At the beginning of “An Infinite Ache”, a two-man show by David Schulner starring Eric Kuehnemann and Nancy Sun, Charles tells Hope that he wishes he were old and had grandchildren already; it's their first date.  He gets his wish and the rest of the play dramatizes what happens to them in between -- marriage, children, separation, reunion, death, mortgages and a thousand other things.  50 years are compressed into 90 minutes.

While the play attempts to explore the dynamics of love and marriage on a deliberately superficial level, it is far too shallow in content to create any genuine emotional impact; to compensate for this complete and utter deficiency of meaning, the play resorts to manipulations of the worst and cheapest sort to sustain the shallow narrative: the death of an infant.  This play is too busy taking itself too seriously and trying to be funny and clever to delve, even in the most superficial way, into any of the issues of heterosexual love relationships.

The entire story of Charles and Hope’s relationship is told at breakneck speeds via a confused montage of dozens upon dozens of scenes, some of which are barely two lines long.  Watching “An Infinite Ache” is like watching a three-hour movie in fast forward mode for twenty minutes.   This play gets older faster than the characters do.  The sad part of this waste of time is that it wastes a rich opportunity to explore the problems and emotional experiences of an interracial marriage between an Asian woman and a Jewish man -- the very thing that makes the relationship unique.  At one point, their respective ethnicities do come into play, but like everything else about this work, there is no development or real resolution.  But then again, these characters are really nothing more than cut-outs of a husband and wife.  No flavor, no reality, no nothing.

But there is a ray of sunshine.  Nancy Sun gives an excellent performance as the half-Chinese, half-Filipino Hope.  When the play begins, she is twenty-seven and looks it.  By the end of the piece, the audience can assume that she is well past retirement and although she doesn't change make up, her movements and delivery are those of a very old lady.   She ages before your eyes without a single prop or wig.  Nancy Sun is on her way to becoming a great actress.

Performances of "An Infinite Ache" continue through November 22.  Check out our full listing for more information here:

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Written by: Al Pesant
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