Hollywood Fringe 2019
With heartrending authenticity, What I Never Told You welcomes the audience into an intimate slice of a couple’s life, highlighting the precious nature of those little conversations that, while sometimes being about nothing, mean everything.
A first time Fringe producer and seasoned actor, Amy Argyle found What I Never Told You (or Lo Que Nunca Te Dije) during an acting gig in Mexico City, where a random Tinder date took her to the theatre. In spite of the language barrier, Argyle found herself completely engrossed by the play, and in tears by the end. After speaking to the playwright Paus Marron about the real-life experiences that inspired the show, Argyle convinced her to translate the show and allow her to produce it at this year’s Hollywood Fringe.
The passion and care that Argyle brings to this production is immediately apparent, allowing this freshman attempt to succeed where others would fall short. Fringe is an often-overwhelming challenge where the heart of why we create art is lost in a shuffle of production needs, marketing, and ticket sales anxiety, but What I Never Told You is a thoroughly rooted passion project that truly takes the time to allow what is clearly a precious story to Argyle to unfold with patience and care. As a first translation, the play is remarkably well adapted, updated to a Los Angeles setting in a way that makes it easy to forget this was originally in Spanish. The set, using the usual larger pieces offered in the Dorie, is packed with personal touches that make it feel like “home,” allowing the actors traverse the stage with sense of familiarity that brings the audience into their world. Argyle has great chemistry with Hays McEachern, who plays her boyfriend of seven years, Nick Greene. Greene could stand to use more vocal energy for the stage, but on the whole holds his own and offers a steady counterpart to Argyle, who truly elevates the show with her incredible stage presence. Her performance as Alysha radiates with a deep empathy and connection with the story that really set this production apart. Although we are well aware that something not so great is going to happen—it’s teased in the promotional materials and even in the title—the depth and authenticity of the relationship Argyle and McEachern create together is so compelling it allows us to forget and simply live in the moment as they are. As flies on the wall, the audience feels like an extension of this couple, celebrating in their stories, laughing as they tease each other, and mourning in their pain. It’s an incredibly effective and moving depiction of long-term, romantic love that truly captures both its quotidian banality and how these familiarities can become the most invaluable parts of life.
A few things could strengthen future iterations of this piece. For one, there is an opening scene in an office that could probably be cut—the story isn’t really fleshed out by it, and it creates another production element to worry about that doesn’t have too much payoff. The entire presence of the additional character of Nick’s secretary Susana, while offering some comic relief, doesn’t seem entirely necessary. Where the show truly takes off is when we are alone with Alysha, who chats up the audience with warm familiarity as she gets ready for her night out. I’d love to never leave the room with her—which is what generally happens for the remainder of the show. It might also be worth considering burying the lede somewhat in promotional materials and summaries, which all tend to tease the ending (which I am trying to avoid here, as it’s a spoiler—so perhaps skip the rest of this paragraph if you haven’t seen the show: even though I’m being obscure, it’s hard to not look for something once you’re prompted.) The strength of the performances is enough to allow us to forget such hints, but it would be nice to not have that working against the show; less of a forewarning would allow the audience to relax even more into Alysha and Nick’s comfortable reality instead of waiting for some other shoe to drop.
What I Never Told You is an elegantly simply and beautifully-acted piece well worth seeing this Fringe. This tender depiction of a relationship—complete with all its charming flaws that make it real— urges us all to take a look at those we hold dear in our own lives and make time for conversations of our own.