Review: “Conversations with My Divorce Attorney,” or All My Little Words

Conversations with My Divorce Attorney

Written and directed by Suzanne Bachner

Presented by JMTC Theatre at the 14Y Theater

344 E 14th St, Manhattan, NYC

April 5-19, 2024

Bob Brader and Kat Nardizzi. Photograph by Nadia Volvic.
Divorce and its aftermath feel rather at home in New York, one half of the setting of Suzanne Bachner’s excellent two-hander Conversations with My Divorce Attorney. Set also in Los Angeles, its bicoastal setting not only provides a backdrop but offers something near a supporting character to the burgeoning relationship between a heartbroken New York playwright and her slick divorce attorney on the West Coast. What begins as a relationship defined by the parameters of attorney-client privilege evolves over the course of a fast-paced 90 minutes into something else altogether. Throughout the play we witness the development of a true love, as well as the negotiation of what power often means in a relationship.

Bachner’s script shines with a startling blend of wit and emotional heft. We move seamlessly from Buffy the Vampire Slayer jokes to frank dialogue dredging the deepest and most vulnerable bits of what makes a human a human.

This sterling script is given its due by the excellent and engaging duo of Kat Nardizzi and Bob Brader. The duo deftly manages the load of a two-hander, making the most out of a script that moves quickly, relying on quick wit and quips to drive the action forward (there’s more than a little real NYC in this tempo). Their dynamic, simply put, works, showcasing intimacy, energy, and a capacious reservoir for 90 minutes of humor and heartache and sex and more jokes and power and more jokes. Both actors get good lines and deliver them with aplomb. Bachner’s is also a play of semiotics. Distance underscored by quips, jokes, innuendos, and intimacies that play with the messy line between denotation and connotations. (One is left wondering, legitimately, about the difference between sending someone a “note” versus a “letter” to announce a divorce, getting out ahead of being served divorce papers. Not to mention wondering, legitimately, whether or not “I love you” has any place in such a correspondence.)

The production is staged at the 14th Street Y, a cavernous yet intimate space. The backdrop screen, which announces each scene accompanied by an effective voiceover, seems to envelop the rest of the setting, as if somehow there are larger forces moving – things outside of these conversations, either in the ether or not exactly, but what we get on stage is only part of what is driving the action. The city (cities) envelop. The snow, when it comes, projects.

The production design features a smartly simple set. A simple table, black, and two chairs. A bottle of water. A glass decanter half full of brown booze. Black crates on a black stage. The simplicity of the set belies and then enhances both the script as well as the undeniable dynamic between Nardizzi and Brader.

Thoughtful costuming further contrasts with the set, focusing the audience on the actors and symbolically charting the development of their relationship and intimacy throughout the 90 minutes. Reds and blues: hers and his; then his and hers. There is dressing, undressing, and dressing another, power and intimacy playing out along sartorial lines. There is the secret of the black silk boxers. There is a bow tie from Bergdorf’s, more than formal wear – a hefty symbol and conduit, as a remote lesson in how to tie a bowtie blurs the line between virtual and real spaces, between New York and Los Angeles, and between friends and lovers.

At times incredibly funny, and at others heart-wrenching, this is a play about love, if not a love letter to it. The audience is quite literally left with refrain: “It will all be ok.” The characters need to hear it. She does, then, ultimately, he does. And, before the lights come up, so do we – smirking and wiping a pesky tear from a raw cheek.

-Noah Jampol

More from the 2024 New York City Fringe Festival:


Popular posts from this blog

Review: The Immersive "American Blues: 5 Short Plays by Tennessee Williams" Takes Audiences on a Marvelously Crafted Journey

Review: From Child Pose to Stand(ing) Up: "Yoga with Jillian" and "Penguin in Your Ear" at the Women in Theatre Festival

Review: Nancy Redman’s "A Séance with Mom" Conjures Mother-Daughter Hilarity and Love