If There Is I Haven't Found It Yet
Jake Gyllenhaal, what were you thinking?
When Julia Roberts played Broadway back in 2006, she took a lot of flak for choosing to appear in Richard Greenberg's gentle but uninteresting ensemble piece "Three Days of Rain." But that play is a masterpiece compared with "If There Is I Haven't Found It Yet," a dreadful piece with an even more dreadful title that Gyllenhaal chose for his American stage debut.
Seeing as English playwright Nick Payne is barely known in this country, one can't help but wonder if the Roundabout Theatre Company, which specializes in classic revivals, produced the play only because Gyllenhaal wanted to do it.
This strange family drama lacks a cohesive plot and lingers on endlessly for about 90 minutes. Its unusual crew of characters includes an academic (Brian F. O'Byrne), a tough teacher (Michelle Gomez), an overweight bullied teen (Annie Funke) and her heartfelt but idiotic uncle (Gyllenhaal).
If not much else, the play observes the bonding between niece and uncle as the teen spirals into a violent depression, which climaxes in an extremely graphic scene.
Michael Longhurst's elaborate production is marked by a heavy use of water. The stage is surrounded by pools of water. And at one point, the entire stage is flooded. Perhaps it's meant to be symbolic?
Gyllenhaal easily blends into his heartbroken, thick-accented character, while Funke presents an often harrowing portrait of a lonely and emotionally abused girl. But if there was a point to "If There Is ...," I haven't found it yet.
If you go: "If There Is I Haven't Found It Yet" plays through Nov. 25 at the Laura Pels Theatre. 111 W. 46th St., 212-719-1300, roundabouttheatre.org.