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The Maid & The Mesmerizer

An intense, realistic study of the lifespan of a relationship.

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Patrick T. Horn and Patricia Lynn in Lynn’s “The Maid & The Mesmerizer” at Jeffrey and Paula Gural Theatre at A.R.T./New York Theatres (DLW Photography NYC)

[avatar user=”Joel Benjamin” size=”96″ align=”left”] Joel Benjamin, Critic[/avatar]

The Maid & The Mesmerizer, the two-hander relationship drama by Patricia Lynn, is an intense, realistic study of the lifespan of a relationship.

When first seen, the Maid (playwright Lynn) is auditioning for the Mesmerizer (Patrick T. Horn) to play his assistant in a YouTube show. The Mesmerizer is a hypnotist who prefers the sexier “mesmerizer” label.

To test her viability he hypnotizes her.  Whether her trance is real or not, she confesses that it has brought her to her happy place, the Moors of Yorkshire, England, the location of the many 18th century novels she adores.

She goes to great lengths describing the imagined landscape and their effect on her.  The Moors of Yorkshire become a running theme in The Maid & the Mesmerizer, an image perhaps repeated too often.

Patrick T. Horn and Patricia Lynn in Lynn’s “The Maid & The Mesmerizer” at Jeffrey and Paula Gural Theatre at A.R.T./New York Theatres (DLW Photography NYC)

On the verge of being rejected, she quickly improvises, becoming a sexy French maid complete with maid headband and little white apron.  This, plus some improvisation and flirty bantering clinches the deal.

Before beginning a grueling tour of live YouTube shows they decide to become lovers but with strict rules and controls they both agree upon.  All this is put in writing.

The play proceeds in a series of ever more intense conversations.  They are seemingly being brought closer as they discuss the ins and outs of their arduous series of performances that take them through the middle of America, performing mostly in small towns staying in motels.  (The uncredited set features a sumptuous bed.)

Their personal lives and professional partnership take a shockingly dramatic turn when the Maid believes that the Mesmerizer had used his hypnotic skills to have sex with her—in other words, she accuses him of raping her.

Patrick T. Horn and Patricia Lynn in Lynn’s “The Maid & The Mesmerizer” at Jeffrey and Paula Gural Theatre at A.R.T./New York Theatres (DLW Photography NYC)

This precipitates a farrago of accusations and emotional turmoil.  All held back emotions erupt.

Lynn’s dialogue is astute and subtle, following the heartbeat of this strange, but understandable couple lifting it out of soapiness and melodrama.  She has written a very modern drama.

Repeatedly, a woman’s voice (Alejandra Venancio) provides narration, her oracular comments poetically amplifying the emotions experienced by the characters. Whether this device helped or hurt is up to the viewer.

The increasingly bleak lighting is designed by Austin Boyle.

Jenn Susi’s direction helps transform conversations into a real one-act play with natural rhythms and a satisfying ending.

The Maid & The Mesmerizer (through March 16, 2024)

Jeffrey and Paula Gural Theatre at A.R.T./New York Theatres, 502 West 53rd Street, in Manhattan

For tickets, visit http://www.maidandmesmerizer.com

Running time: 80 minutes without an intermission

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About Joel Benjamin (560 Articles)
JOEL BENJAMIN was a child performer on Broadway and danced with leading modern dance and ballet companies. Joel has been attending theater, ballet and opera performances ever since childhood, becoming quite opinionated over the years. He was the founder and artistic director of the American Chamber Ballet and subsequently was massage therapist to the stars before becoming a reviewer and memoirist. He is a member of the Outer Critics Circle.

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