Show: Hello Failure
Company: The Side Project
Venue: The Side Project
There is an inherent risk in titling a play “Hello Failure”. Critics may be tempted to play with the wording and imply that the show lives up to its name. Thankfully, that is not the case with The Side Project’s production of Kristen Kosmas’s play about the women who are left behind by the men who sail under the water as submariners.
The play begins with a series of disjointed scenes in rapid-fire succession. Eventually all but one of the separate vignettes coalesce into the main action of the play. Each woman who starts far away and in her own world gathers with the others at a support group for those who are left behind by the men who serve in the Silent Service.
We witness the struggles of the women to hold on to the control that they once had over their own lives. We see how they attempt to hold onto their sanity in a time of loneliness and fear. And then we look across the stage and see the performance of Meg Elliott as Rebecca, the one woman who has not joined the others at this particular gathering. We see what happens when the fear, loneliness, and control all get away from a person.
The scenes vary in their level of dramatic impact or comedic effect. But they are all very real. Even the scenes that focus on the unreality of Rebecca’s psyche hit home.
The rest of the group is populated by a wide variety of women. A tough and gritty, pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps woman in flannel and jeans (Kirsten D’Aurelio) pushes through an employment crisis. Kate (Julia Daubert), an almost Stepford Wife-esque woman reveals that she has turned to the love of another, pursuing an affair. And Meredith Rae Lyons plays Valeska, a woman who seems to see it as her duty to call out anyone who isn’t okay with shedding their bit of personal myth in her presence. Lyons plays this character with great ability, making her likable despite her habit of making others uncomfortable.
Eventually the whole group does come together when they are called upon to make an intervention at Rebecca’s home, and the play makes it clear that no matter what the others are like, having people in your life who are going through something similar can make things somewhat better. It’s a play with an underlying moral that isn’t slammed home, but pushes it forward, nevertheless.
TEN WORD SUMMARY: Women deal with abandonment when their husbands are under water.
RATING: d12- “Heckuva Good Show”