EVER DAYDREAMED about a life where you never have to look at Facebook again? In Jordan Harrison's Maple and Vine, a young couple combat their modern malaise by joining a colony of history re-enactors, whose day-to-day lives unfold in a perfect simulacrum of the year 1955.
So Katha (Melissa Schenter), a publishing exec, becomes Kathy the Housewife. Her husband, Ryu (Heath Hyun Houghton), is demoted from his job as a plastic surgeon to the assembly line in the box factory. The casual racism he faces as an Asian American? It's a small tradeoff for a home-cooked meal every night.
Maple and Vine is a great little script. The premise plays neatly on modern anxieties about technology—WHY IS EVERYONE TWITTERING THEIR LUNCHES—while reminding us that simpler times weren't necessarily better times. They weren't even simpler, really—just more racist, sexist, and homophobic.
But CoHo's production has a few fatal flaws. Scene changes are interminable, and accompanied by meandering jazz that makes transitions drag even more. Schenter, as Katha, gives a straightforward, workmanlike performance, but her role requires more nuance. (By comparison, Sean McGrath and Spencer Conway, as a pair of closeted lovers, are the show's saving graces—they play their 1950s avatars with period-appropriate swagger, while working in plenty of brooding subtext.) Without a convincing lead, and dogged by pacing issues, Maple and Vine just isn't as good as it should be.