We all remember that person in college. You know, the one we never had the nerve to reveal how we felt. Of course, our lingering despair rarely considers what would have happened if the courage had come to us. Well, Matthew Weinstein’s A Missed Connection frames the scenario, and the unraveling of this 22 minute story gives us a chance to go back in time. Unfortunately, the delivery of the actual discourse comes up short in places and, as a result, fitting justice is missed to Weinstein’s wonderful efforts.
A dark city night and the elevated train sounding off the title, the stage is set in the emergence of a shadowy figure. Blurred by the past, the message is clear. The life pictured never came into focus, and when Jake’s (Tyler Pistorius) papers spill out of his briefcase, disarray tags alongside the lovelorn’s difficulties.
Add a little whiskey to his coffee and Jake’s obviously got bigger problems. On the other hand, Lauren (Kimberly Michelle Vaughn) doesn’t seem to have it so bad – even though her date has bailed on her.
Annoyed, she goes for a tea, and the time-space continuum going into full gear, Jake has occupied the same space. Old college friends, they come upon each other and then it happens.
Pistorius delivers his first line. The actor is wooden, monotone, and for a writer, devoid of any passion or emotion.
Jake’s career never taking off and stuck in the self-described 9-5 constraints of “supporting a bureaucratic system,” it’s possible that the life has been sucked out of him. But the performance more likely suggest that Pistorius has a way to go as an actor.
Either way, Vaughn’s performance is receptive and approachable, and despite having to play off Pistorius, the actress takes us in. So much so that if she was the one, we would reconsider the past. In other words, we’d find it hard not to imagine what our girl would have said with the right words, at the right time.
Nonetheless, they reminisce and rehash, and the subtle, melancholy score by Mark Bartels and the serene sound levels allows the viewer to accept a relatively mundane conversation.
The soft colors and muted background imagery also sets us at ease but almost begs that the drama goes up a notch. So Lauren digs in, and we get a wider glimpse of Jake. Relationships, dashed dreams, he’s got a lot on his plate and most anybody would run.
But the empathy Vaughn emotes and her insistence to delve deeper suggests there’s more to A Missed Connection than Jake’s story. With no other recourse, Lauren shares and reveals that pain is a two way street.
The low light, darkness of the scene now takes over and reinforces the despair. On the other hand, the mood also primes us for a moment of truth where we hope for the best. So all set up, the words are there, and in accordance with a very professional looking production, the moment touches us profoundly.
Unfortunately, with only one actor to carry the drama, it makes it very hard to cement the possibilities together. Instead, we can only wonder how the past could have been brought back and helped us seize the present.