Theresa Rebeck is a prolific writer who has written both full length and one-act plays, film scripts, television scripts, and novels. One of her earliest plays, Loose Knit (1992), now in production at The Group Rep, is set in New York City in the apartments of a knitting klatch consisting of five women. Lily (Stephanie Colet), the de facto leader, has a husband, the smiling, amiable Bob (Doug Haverty) who makes a botch of doing the laundry. Lily’s sister, Liz (Marie Broderick), is a pop journalist who lacks the patience to knit and kvetches about it. The problem is really that she is having an affair with Bob.
A newcomer, the effusive Margie (Julie Davis), expresses a pitiful desire for a man, any man, which has led her to sign up for a dating service. The centered, accomplished psychotherapist, Paula (Cathy Diane Tomlin), is bemused that people pay for the privilege of lying to her. And Gina (Lisa Mcgee Mann), a brittle, recently laid-off lawyer, is brilliantly productive with her knitting, which keeps her just a scant edge away from a breakdown.
And then there is Miles (Todd Andrew Ball). Miles is a friend of Lily’s. He is extremely wealthy. Lily has arranged dates with him for Margie, Paula, and Liz in an upscale sushi joint. Miles is smooth and impeccably dressed. He has his Rolls parked outside. With each woman, he talks little and writes copiously in his notebook. The dates don’t go well, except for the one with Liz, whose anger and volatility intrigues Miles, who actually puts down his notebook and pen. Despite her hostility, she goes for a ride around Manhattan.
In the last scene in act one, Margie, in an extraordinary scene of madness and mental breakdown, lurches around her apartment destroying her knitting, strewing skeins of yarn and wrapping herself up in the chaos, until her friends intervene and she goes catatonic. It is a sure sign that the act must end.
The script is frankly dated and the depiction of women in desperation for a man doesn’t play well. The fault lies not with actors, but with the play. The men don’t fare well either. The good guy, Bob, sees nothing wrong with cheating on his wife, smiling through all the scenes. And Miles and his notebook objectify the women he dates. All the characters are, frankly, thinly drawn.
Under the direction of L. Flint Esquerra, there are sections where the actors talk over each other and become incomprehensible. The choreography at the beginning and end of the show, could be charming, but can’t really be seen well in the dim lighting.
This said, the second act fares better than the first, with some genuine emotion shining through, especially in the work of Ms. Colet as Lilly, as the action moves to climax and dénouemant.
The Production/Design Team includes Chris Winfield (Set Design), Doug Gabrielle (Lighting Design), Angela M. Eads (Costume Design), JC Gafford (Sound Design/Assistant Director), Ariana Fernandez (Stage Manager), Doug Haverty (Graphic Designer) and Doug Engalla (Photographer/Videographer).
Loose Knit, produced for The Group Rep by Katelyn Ann Clark, continues in The Lonny Chapman Theatre through September 8.