Neena Beber's pretentious
, by Flashpoint Theatre at the Adrienne, could be subtitled "Psychosis for Dummies." Or "Bipolar Disorder Made Easy." Or - well, you get the idea. Is there a cheesier, more self-serving assumption than the link between mental illness and creativity? Just because Melville and Rachmaninoff were bipolar, it doesn't necessarily follow that everyone who is bipolar is an artistic genius. The actors, under the direction of Karen DiLossi, struggle heroically to bring this adolescent nonsense to life.
Three people share an apartment. Dave (Keith Conallen) is very smart and very crazy; compulsively quippy, he is writing a novel while living on his best friend's sofa. Paul (Christopher Bohan) is a filmmaker who wants to do something more interesting than make doughnut commercials. His girlfriend, Karen (Kristy Chouiniere), wins a grant to work on an academic project she already has lost interest in; the subject is Countess Castiglione, a 19th-century beauty famous as a photographer's model. (Though much could have been done with this rich allusion, Beber seems merely to glance at it.)
After a long first act that's just a setup for the second, the three get An Idea: Instead of hanging around the apartment whining, let's make a movie about Dave being bipolar. They film him all day every day, until one day he stops taking his meds and goes quite nuts. On top of all the half-digested material already stuffed into the script, things then take an unforeseen religious turn, with riffs about the Holocaust, God, and suffering. It is only near the end that we get any sense of Dave's suffering; just as Karen suspects she romanticizes mental illness, so, apparently, does Beber.
A jump cut is a film technique by which two shots, separated briefly in time or place, are edited together so the transition vanishes; this creates an odd dislocation, making it seem that time has "jumped." This calls attention to the camera rather than the content, a small, sly dismantling of realism. The only bearing the title has on the play's otherwise pedestrian structure is that Paul occasionally steps forward to give us a little lesson on cinematic technique, quotations from Godard, and speculation that a camera is merely a tool of introspection.
Jump/Cut makes so little use - both in content and in production - of the tension between theater and film, that it could just as easily be about anything: plumbing, say, or pastry-making.
Flashpoint Theatre at the Adrienne, Second Stage, 2030 Sansom St. Tickets $10-$18. Information: 215-665-9720