Everything Else Happened
Using four short stories by Everything is Illuminated author Jonathan Safran Foer, Everything Else Happened is certainly a fine, hour-long burst of good writing, if not very compelling as theatre.
There seems little narrative connection, except a sense of wry, dry humour, in the monologues of an anxiously chatting Jewish mother, a frustrated married house-buyer, an eccentric elderly magician and a Woody Allen-ish surrogate of Foer himself.
All four characters are sharply delineated in the performances of Patti Love, Simon Scardifield, Harry Ditson and Adam Lenson. You could say they all define some aspect of the Jewish experience in New York, and both Love's chattering Rhoda and Lenson's jumpy Jonathan at least share a susceptibility to heart disease.
The ageing magician plays the recorded voice of a girl at a birthday party. Rhoda speaks to a tape recorder ostentatiously left in the middle of the floor. Scardifield's unnamed Man is trapped in an increasingly fraught dialogue with the recorded voice of his partner.
The adaptations from Foer's prose are made by David Kantounas, who co-directs with Adam Lenson on a rudimentary, anonymous domestic setting by Anne Gry Skovdal. The actors prove not only sympathetic interpreters but also efficient scene-shifters.
But the show makes far less convincing a case for recycling Foer's supple, subtle prose than did Stephen Daldry's flawed, over-long but compelling movie adaptation of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. As Othello says in another context, "'Tis better as it is."