Friday, August 26, 2011

FringeNYC 2011: The Three Times She Knocked

Last Wednesday, I saw the Frtinge Festival production of The Three Times She Knocked at Manhattan Theatre Source and found it to be a cleverly constructed tale of sexual obsession with a good plot twist. I thought that the acting was excellent as was the chemistry between the two players: Bob D’Haene and Isabel Richardson.

Isabel Richardson and Bob D'Haene in The Three Times She Knocked. Photo by Josh Jones.
Tara (Isabel Richardson), a recently hired employee, is young, beautiful and newly-married and, from the moment he first laid eyes on her, Eric (Bob D’Haene), her co-worker, has been absolutely smitten.  Indeed, not merely smitten but obsessed and not just with her physical beauty but with her “transcendence.”  His love for her is not of this world but is on an entirely different plane.

Eric felt this way once before about another female co-worker eleven years ago and that didn’t work out well at all.  But he has learned from experience and won’t allow himself to slip into a situation like that again.  And so he does whatever he can to avoid any contact with Tara unless absolutely necessary: when he sees her coming, he turns the other way or ducks into an office or cubicle; if he’s invited to join a group of co-workers for lunch and he learns that she’ll be part of the group, he begs off; if she initiates a conversation with him, he makes every effort to cut it short.

Tara quickly becomes aware that Eric is avoiding her but she doesn’t know why.  Understandably (albeit mistakenly), she assumes not that he is obsessively in love with her but, rather, that he hates her or that she must have done  something to offend him.  And so she confronts him to find out just what is going on.

Not surprisingly, Eric is reluctant to disclose his feelings to her at first but, as she persists, returning time and again to his office (and always knocking three times, whence the title of the play), he explains his actions to her, ultimately going so far as to share his innermost fantasies with her.  That, in turn, triggers a reaction in Tara and an odd but strong sexual tension develops between them, one lacking in physical contact but akin to what might be experienced through sexting or telephone sex.

And that is about all that I can safely tell you about the plot of The Three Times She Knocked without running the risk of ruining the play for you, since there are still some unusual twists to come that you’re better off not knowing about in advance.  But I can tell you this: the chemistry between Richardson and D’Haene is terrific, both of their performances are pitch perfect, and this play is well worth seeing.

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