Hollywood Fringe 2019
Hypnotherapist and patient try to get past their past lives.
For anyone who’s wondered if they’re getting any benefit out of the regular visits with their therapist, “Transference,” a new play by Jim Blanchette, should either make those people feel more at ease, or even more dubious, depending on how they look at it.
“Transference” takes place within a single session between a therapist, Dr. Hebert (Esther Mira), and her patient Mrs. Clark (Lisa K. Wyatt). What starts out like a normal session quickly turns into the surreal when Mrs. Clark taps into a breakthrough vision of all of her past lives and realizes that she has always been in love with Dr. Hebert and all of Dr. Hebert’s past lives. The doctor is naturally skeptical and as the session continues, the tables turn, Freudian slips are made, and the doctor makes some startling revelations of her own.
Mira and Wyatt are both long-time veterans of the Hollywood Fringe. Mira’s previous turns include last year’s “Hercules Insane” and various productions from the Broads Word ensemble. I previous caught Wyatt’s thoroughly enjoyable solo performance in 2017’s “Why We Become Witches” and much of the understated comedy I caught then was on display in this production. Things sometimes stay light when they ought to get heavy, but together, they ably weave through a complicated history of who they are and who they are to each other.
Kudos to writer and director Jim Blanchette who tackles and brings to life an original script. Even the minor set decoration added a cozy feel to the otherwise barren black box space. The audience wants to know whether these two characters are truly fated to be lovers and if so, how are they meant to love each other in this life? Ultimately, the connection between the two leads felt somewhat contrived and I wondered if things would have been different had their discoveries developed slowly over the course of multiple sessions, in meticulously-placed minor revelations, rather than cramming every reveal of their sordid and storied history into just one session. And yet, there’s good humor, from the self-deprecating to the historically macabre that holds your attention to the very end.
For Fringe-goers seeking new original works, “Transference” offers a palatable and thorny journey of self-discovery. -ZACHARY BERNSTEIN