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Into The Vacuum (Fringe Festival 2012)

by Lina Zeldovich on August 22, 2012

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In the vast emptiness of a dessert some place in the West, an ultra-wealthy corporate mogul Jonathan Hemminger (David Arrow) cunningly and carefully plans a weekend that will turn a cure for cancer into millions of skin cream jars. The catch? Hemminger gets richer. Plus, the world economy continues to chug along because, as he convincingly explains, eliminating cancer would put everyone out of businesses: doctors, pharmacies and healthcare companies.


Stranded on a remote ranch where Jonathan’s plan brought him, is Grayson Campbell, (Chris Stack) a talented scientist who discovered a way to turn tumors onto themselves, to make them devour their own cells until the lumps dissipate as if sucked into a Vacuum. With neither phone nor internet access, Grayson and his wife Amelia (Dana Brooke) believe he is here to give a speech at a convention. Except there are barely any people in the hotel apart from Jonathan and his three wives: past, present, (although separated) and perhaps a future one. Unwittingly or not, the catty trio of Patricia (Polly Adams), Ruth (Lynne Halliday) and Kathy (Katie Wren Huard) is a part of Jonathan’s thriving skin care company – and his plan.

Jonathan plays a generous host. He flew the couple in on a private jet. The resort’s their oyster: they can have a personal tour guide, luxury spa treatments and anything they wish. There, in a masterfully orchestrated social and emotional vacuum, Hemminger hopes to make Grayson give up his rights to his almost uncanny discovery.

But Grayson’s invention is not entirely his.

Grayson’s beautiful yet brain-damaged wife had once been a scientist who rivaled her husband. But, a devastating head injury she sustained when she had fallen down the stairs rendered her with an intellectual capacity of a ten-year old. She can’t remember simple words, can’t drive a car and can’t find her way back to the hotel room. A sad caricature of a perfect housewife, brilliantly brought to life by Dana Brooke’s performance, she spends her days watching TV shows, adores the skincare commercials (which are ironically done by Patricia, Jonathan’s first ex-wife), dreams of living in a big house and grows flowers in her garden albeit she has trouble remembering their names.

Akin to a thriller in its suspenseful pace well-crafted by Arlene Hutton, Vacuum moves along slowly as David Arrow creates a terribly believable corporate sleaze who will stop at nothing to get what he wants. And he will use anything he can, from money to promises of miraculous cures for Amelia’s condition to wooing the childish yet pretty Grayson’s wife – in front of his own three.

Will Grayson give in to the temptation of lavish lifestyle and leave Amelia behind? Or will Jonathan charm her into scribbling her name on the dotted line of the contract? Someone will lose in this game, someone will declare a victory. But no matter who wins, there’s no happy ending to it, the same way as there is no cure for cancer. At least not yet – not until someone finally figures out how to make the tumors eat themselves as if into a vacuum.


The Journey Company & Wild Card Productions
Writer: Arlene Hutton
Director: Chris Goutman
Which is more important — preserving the world economy or curing a fatal disease? At an exclusive desert resort an idealistic scientist squares off against a billionaire-industrialist in this daring new drama full of deception, sexual intrigue and corporate power-plays.
1h 30m   Local   Manhattan, New York
Staycation: Ripped from the Headlines   Spa Getaway (Mind & Body)
VENUE #12: Cherry Lane Theatre
Thu 16 @ 2  Fri 17 @ 6:15  Sun 19 @ 12:30  Wed 22 @ 9:30  Fri 24 @ 9

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