Focusing on the FSU/Asolo Conservatory's Blur.
By Kay Kipling
A play about a young woman threatened with impending blindness might seem pretty heavy going. As written by Melanie Marnich, a playwright who definitely sees things through her own set of eyes, that’s not the case with Blur, now onstage in an FSU/Asolo Conservatory production at the Cook Theatre.
Our heroine, Dot (Kirstin Franklin), is first glimpsed as a baby about to be born, and those opening moments, after she starts toddling around in her sleep suit, are cute and set the stage for the relationship between Dot and her mother (Sarah Gavitt), who’s increasingly eccentric and overprotective of her child—especially when they discover, as Dot turns 17, that she has a degenerative eye disease that was a genetic gift from a parent. (Dot’s father apparently never stuck around, so at first it’s easy to put the blame on him.)
Kirstin Franklin and Kevin Stanfa in the FSU/Asolo Conservatory’s Blur.
Although they’re close in some ways, Dot and her mother choose to deal with the problem differently: Mom by repeatedly trying to shut Dot in from the dangerous outside world, and Dot by reaching out to others closer to her own age, finding both a friend (Alexandra Guyker) in a tough-talking girl with a cleft palate and first love with a goofy guy who cleans cages at the zoo (Peter Mendez).
Through it all, Blur is composed of short, cinematically handled scenes, with a musical score behind the dialogue and little methods of keeping the tone light (such as cast members walking across the stage with signs to announce scene changes, or serving as handy props). The first act intrigues us, especially in scenes between Dot and her priest (Kevin Stanfa), who’s quirky but kind and definitely not in complete compliance with Vatican rules.
But Act II, as Dot continues to bond with her fellow misfits and learn how to make it on her own terms, feels, well, blurry—both predictable and sort of unfinished. That makes the evening less satisfying than it could be, although the cast (which also includes Ghafir Akbar in several roles, including that of the eye doctor who keeps fitting Dot with progressively stronger glasses) holds up its end of things. Marnich has a unique talent that’s evident here, but one wants more from the play’s conclusion.
Blur continues through Jan. 25; for tickets call 351-8000 or go to asolo.org.