Dorian Palumbo reviews Ian and his Body at MITF

There is an interesting premise behind the one-act play “Ian and his Body”, written by Michael Ricotta.  A young man prepares to go on a tinder date, but his body, embodied by another actor entirely, has other ideas.

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Ian, played by Evan Brechtel, is trying to confirm details for a meetup with Jessie (Rachel-Ann Giambrone).  Ian’s Body, played by Mario Morales, is more concerned with reuniting Ian with his coke dealer (Palmyra Mattner).  When the four of them meet up at a local bar, it becomes clear fairly quickly that Ian is going to end up being a bad date story that Jessie will tell at dinner parties later in life.

It would be unfair to expect a playwright to completely and thoroughly explore cocaine addiction in 30 minutes.  Rather than do that, Ricotta’s instinct seems to be to take one incident in a young man’s life and try to examine, moment to moment, how that man’s decisions are made and what behavior results from those decisions.  Ricotta also tries to flip the expected trope, the healthy young man led astray by his addicted physical body, by having Body voice a wish to be healthy and sane, allowing us to see Ian, the real man, as Jessie and the rest of the world see him – self-absorbed, addicted, and thoughtless.

I think what I might have wanted to see more of here was a sense of why the audience was expected to care about Ian, and about his Body.  At times, Ian seems to merely be pursuing a hookup with Jessie, which makes Jessie the more sympathetic of the pair.  At times, we even question why Jessie is still sitting in the bar talking to him, and we’re not surprised at all, about 20 minutes in, when Jessie is seen shooting the breeze with Ian’s dealer, bonding with dealer Sandra in a way that seems unlikely with Ian, who is a bit all over the place.

Sandra, the dealer, has the clearest agenda here – to re-establish her income stream from Ian.  Jessie is next, wanting to see if Ian could be someone she’d want to date, and finding that out in no uncertain terms.  Morales lends a lot of charm to Body, who simply wants to continue to exist, and Body’s agenda of getting high again morphs into wanting not to get all THAT high, not wanting to COMPLETELY ruin Ian’s life and, instead, counseling a bit of junkie-style balance.  This makes Body a bit more interesting than Ian, who simply seems to be delighting in the purity of Sandra’s new supply and not really giving much of a thought to Jessie, to his own health, or to consequences.  While this seems fairly typical of junkies we’ve seen portrayed on stage before, I’m not sure why I’m meant to connect, as an audience member, with Ian.  Perhaps Ian is just meant to be a cautionary tale.

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