The Women’s Project tends to favor domestic comedies that play like tragedies. Or maybe it’s the other way around. Recent shows such as Jackie, Bethany, Apple Cove, Lascivious Something, and Smudge show mothers and fathers, and husbands and wives, dangling at the ends of their respective ropes. But Allison Moore’s Collapse may be the first play to show two spouses actually hanging from a bridge.
A kindly amusement with moments of strained surrealism, Collapse, set in Minnesota, concerns Hannah (Hannah Cabell) and David (Elliot Villar), a married couple awash in anxieties. Hannah worries about her precarious job situation and failure to conceive. David doesn’t voice his worries until late in the play, but he seems unusually jittery and has taken to watering their dying houseplant with his half-drunk beers. Their relationship hardly improves when Hannah’s ditzy sister Susan (Nadia Bowers, doing her best with a broadly written role) arrives. Hannah’s brief entanglement with a recovering sex addict (audience favorite Maurice McRae) further complicates their ménage.
Director Jackson Gay keeps Moore’s script, which can tend toward the absurd, fairly well grounded. Amid the chaos of affairs, urban climbing, and a botched drug deal, Gay makes sure we focus on Hannah and David. As Cabell and Villar are accomplished performers (though Cabell sometimes reads as perhaps too manic), that’s no hardship. And beneath the play’s more farcical aspects, Moore does offer an actual moral. “Things collapse. Bridges. Companies. Marriages,” says David. So we’d all better learn how best to fall.