The Great Nebula in Orion and Ludlow Fair, TinFish Theatre. Lanford Wilson is a director’s playwright, the kind of dramatist whose works cry out for interpretation. He supplies the dialogue and basic structure, and the director is responsible for infusing Wilson’s bare-bones script with vitality. Striking a balance between underdevelopment and overdevelopment is a challenge–especially in Wilson’s shorter works, where a few missteps can throw the entire staging out of sync.

Ludlow Fair takes place in the bedroom of a small apartment, where two roommates are awake, agonizing over their own insignificant, petty problems. Director Jessica McNamara’s blocking is static, and the actresses make too many deliberate pauses, which turns the play into a tedious melodrama. The Great Nebula in Orion, set in the living room of a New York high-rise, fares much better, if only because of the chemistry between Kate Harris and Linda LeVeque. But though director Kerstin Broockmann locates many of the nuances of Wilson’s script, she fails to draw them out sufficiently.

Ludlow Fair and The Great Nebula in Orion were never intended as companion pieces, but they’re remarkably similar in structure: both revolve around two women struggling to communicate with and understand each other. TinFish’s coupling of them points up their differences, pitting youth and inexperience against age and knowledge. It’s a pretty clever juxtaposition; unfortunately, it’s the only truly inventive aspect of the entire production. –Nick Green