Torn between the pretty girlfriend and the clever love-interest, Jake discovers that life is filled with difficult choices. Junior Amanda Martinez’s “Tiramisu” explores the options.

Directed by Rob McGinnis ’01, “Tiramisu” is entertaining, although a little unpolished in execution. The well conceived — and at times hilarious — script is matched with creative set design and strong acting.

Effective use of one-liners and colorful metaphors propel the plot through the relationship troubles of Jake (Justin Vaughn ’02). Jake is torn between his shallow but beautiful girlfriend of four years, Julia (Martinez) and Dessa (Elana Firestone ’03), a mysterious women he meets at a Halloween party.

The whole premise of the play is simple but cleverly developed. The play revolves around Jake’s realization that he desires more than just a rich, beautiful girlfriend and ventures to find a “real” girl, one he can talk to. While Julia, the stereotypical model who drinks skim milk lattes, can walk into a room and “have everyone’s attention but can’t hold anyone’s interest,” Dessa is thoughtful, intelligent and witty.

Overall, the well-written script is supported by strong acting. Martinez is convincing but at times, crosses the line between appropriately ditzy and just plain annoying. The most climactic scenes are noticeably unemotional because of her inability to convey to the audience a convincing sense of despair.

Martinez’s best moments are over coffee, having girl-talk with her friends, played by Evan Zimmerman ’04 and Margaux Wexberg ’01. The scene with the three girls captures the “Clueless” charm of superficial females.

Vaughn, although playing an unlikeable character, is believable and seems extremely comfortable in this part. He is often too rigid, especially in intimate situations.

Firestone is the best on-stage with mannerisms that complement her quirky character. She develops her pensive demeanor with reserved gestures that convince audience of her character’s integrity.

Surprisingly, both Martinez and Firestone were cast into these roles at the beginning of the week because of a cast member’s illness. Martinez, who plays the lead role, and Firestone, her supporting actress, deliver solid performance that give the impression of weeks of preparation.

The ensemble is also great. Rick Gilde ’04 proves versatile and enthusiastic playing three different well-developed characters. Zimmerman and Wexberg are animated and convincing, hitting the one-liners of their scenes flawlessly. Their gestures and facial expressions during coffee-talk scenes are classic.

However, even with compelling acting, a few production wrinkles plague the show. Overall scene changes are unpolished, and at times cast members are uncoordinated when the lights go off, often bumping into one another and the set. This is partly because of too many scene changes written into the script, ruining the fluidity of the performance.

Nevertheless, set designer Russell Greenberg ’02 did a remarkable job. This innovative set — three large painted wooden blocks with strategic cut-outs on wheels — is minimalist and effective.

In all, the acting and script more than compensate for “Tiramisu”‘s minor production flaws.


Off-Broadway Theater

Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 8p.m.

Tickets: $2