A successful photographer suffering from shooter’s block since the death of her less-talented father. A “trend analyst” grappling with the emptiness of his work and the betrayals of his own body. These are the thirtysomething protagonists of Still Life, Alexander Dinelaris’s heartfelt but scattered reclamation project of the much-maligned generation known as X.
Dinelaris is on a mission to rescue his peers from the (long ago discarded) stereotype of terminally ironic apathy. But by focusing so much on refuting Reality Bites, he and director Will Frears frequently lose track of the vibrant, unpredictable, alluring couple at the center of their play. Sarah Paulson and Frederick Weller generate delightfully cantankerous fireworks as Carrie Ann and Jeffrey; several of Dinelaris’s windier explications of Dignity and Purpose are trumped by Jeffrey’s furtive sniff of the jacket he had draped over Carrie Ann’s shoulders after walking her home. But manifesto-itis constantly threatens to eclipse the play’s incidental pleasures. And a late plot twist shines an unfortunate spotlight on Dinelaris’s distractingly earnest view of Gen-Xers.
Without giving too much away, is there some sociological significance in the medically unsound anti-pharmaceutical stance propagated by both Still Life and Broadway’s Next to Normal? If the Jeffreys of the world can stomach it, that might be a trend worth analyzing.