At first glance, Lucas Kavner’s “Fish Eye” would appear to be just another drama depicting the beginning and end of a youthful romantic relationship.
There’s nothing special about the story, which takes place in a trendy studio apartment with an exposed brick wall.
Max (Joe Tippett) and Anna (Betty Gilpin) meet by chance, start dating and eventually move in together. Their idyllic happiness is threatened by Anna’s well-meaning ex-boyfriend Jay (Ato Essandoh), who encourages her to apply to film school, which results in her moving away to California. Anna ends up kissing another guy and Max ends up sleeping with a friend.
But in spite of the familiar story line, “Fish Eye” stands out for its unusual construction and the absolutely seamless flow of its scenes, which are randomly mixed together with no clear chronology.
The scenes start and finish extremely quickly and literally on top of each other. Often, the lights will fade on an actor who remains onstage but is nevertheless not a part of the new scene. At one point, Max appears in two scenes simultaneously with different characters.
Audience members must pay close attention to contextual clues to figure out where in the course of their relationship any given scene is taking place.
The cast shows incredible chemistry, and it is worth noting that they worked collaboratively with the playwright to develop “Fish Eye.”
While Essendoh has an energetic presence, Tippett and Gilpin share a mutual sadness that resonates with strong authenticity.
If you go: “Fish Eye” plays at HERE through June 18. 145 Sixth Ave., 212-352-3101, here.org.