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Fiercely Independent

An unhappy couple check into a hotel for 24 hours in order to unleash their disappointments on each other.

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Christopher M. Smith and Caitlin Gallogly in a scene from Kathleen K. Johnson’s “Fiercely Independent” (Photo credit: Carol Rosegg)

Christopher Caz

Christopher Caz, Critic

Marriage on the rocks after only four years, Julie (Caitlin Gallogly) and Robert (Christopher M. Smith) agree to sequester themselves in a hotel room for 24 hours–no interruptions, no booze and no technology–in order to figure out their problems. Upon entering the room, Julie surveys the simple quarters and utters the show’s very funny promotional tagline “I guess the separate beds were your idea,” to no laughs whatsoever.

Let’s talk about the talent:  Gallogly and Smith are, in a word, fantastic in Fiercely Independent. They listen to each other intently, their responses are spontaneous and natural, and their chemistry is evident. Even when they’re not speaking, their inner dialogues are continuous and their intents are crystal clear. Gallogly and Smith are by turns playfully fun and painfully electric.

Christopher M. Smith, Jordan Sobel and Caitlin Gallogly in a scene from Kathleen K. Johnson’s “Fiercely Independent” (Photo credit: Carol Rosegg)

The direction by playwright/director Kathleen K. Johnson easily contributes to Gallogly and Smith’s success. She carefully balances the ebbs and flows of their conflicts and vulnerabilities in well-paced sprints.

Regrettably, the acting and direction are hobbled by Johnson’s own frequently unimaginative and disjointed script. The dialogue is natural and enjoyable enough when the couple lets down their guard, but when they begin to air their grievances against each other, the clichéd barbs start to fly so fast and furious that the audience really can’t hone in on an integral argument. Julie and Robert simply continue to stab at each other with petty grievances until they, and the audience, tire of it. Julie’s last straw seems to be Robert’s reading the newspaper instead of paying attention to her; she finally tells him she’s no longer in love with him, and walks out like a wounded victim. The audience is just as dumbfounded as Robert by this exit. The play would have been better served if the couple had suffered a single, high-stakes conflict rather than a pile of random domestic gripes.

The costume design by Rodney Harper efficiently define the simple, middle class couple. The set and lighting design by Will Cotton is appropriately simple and effective for a nondescript hotel room.

Fiercely Independent (through April 7, 2019)

SoHo Playhouse, 15 Vandam Street, in Manhattan.

For tickets call 212-691-1555 or visit https://www.fiercelysoho.com/

Running time: one hour and ten minutes without an intermission

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Christopher Caz
About Christopher Caz (18 Articles)
Christopher Caswell hails from Austin, Texas, but has called New York City his home for over three decades. Seasoned cabaret soloist, longest running member of the award-winning pops group "Uptown Express" and contributor to ManhattanDigest.com, he shares his view from the audience for TheaterScene.net. http://www.ChristopherCaswell.com
Contact: Website

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