Fielding Edlow’s The Something-Nothing is a hilarious, biting, highly original look at a 20something love triangle in pre-9/11 New York City.


Meet The Something-Nothing’s cast of three:

•Narrator Luna Allergash (Jenica Bergere), a foul-mouthed lesbian with a mostly unrequited love for her roommate Liza. 
•Liza Hochberg (Annika Marks), a smart, attractive researcher for Lifetime Network with self-esteem issues and only marginal interest in same-sex sex.  
•Sam Besser (Kevin Hoffer), a nerdy, self-involved segment producer for ESPN, currently enrolled in the same “faggoty writing class” as Liza, who becomes the object of her affection.
Following one of their class sessions, Sam suggests that he and Liza hang out, leading to a discussion of Liza’s upbringing (she can’t help it if she’s from the Upper East Side) and Sam’s interests (he toyed with the idea of majoring in psychotherapy but decided to go into therapy instead). After another class, Liza presents a delighted Sam with an action figure of Plastic Man (his favorite superhero) which she happened to find in the street, but when talk turns to Liza’s experience with unlubed condoms, Sam makes a quick escape. Soon, though, Sam is inviting himself over to Liza’s apartment, though the farthest things go between them is a bit of exploratory kissing.

Sam Besser proves a tough nut to crack.  Despite his outward geekiness, he’s a sports nut with a long list of girlfriends in his past, a list which began at age ten with a girl he met at camp and promptly cheated on.  Some lip-to-lip contact with Liza inspires Sam to remark to her that “You remind me of my third girlfriend.  Yeah, right around the mouth.” On the other hand, when Liza starts getting too close for comfort, he tells her “Please don’t make me your boyfriend after just three weeks and one night.”  There’s also the matter of the interest Sam pays to one of Luna’s photos, enough to plant seeds of doubt in Liza’s mind.
Still, Liza and Sam continue exchanging IMs, and one night, when Liza is out, Luna decides to have a little fun at the keyboard. Pretending to be Liza, she begins a sexual flirtation with Sam, who can’t help getting excited when “Liza’s” messages turn to discussions of pussies and clits. 
In Luna, playwright Edlow has created one of the most complex, duplicitous, screwed-up, borderline evil yet perversely fascinating lesbians ever depicted on a stage. The gal in black guzzles Jack Daniels non-stop, even adding it to her homemade strawberry smoothes.  Her idea of a great costume party is one for which “you dress as the grossest person you’ve ever fucked.” She loves dancing along to heavy metal CDs, perhaps because “Oh my God, I want to fuck that one-armed drummer from Def Leppard.” She asks Sam, “Have you ever had a girl stick her tongue up your asshole?”, and this is before he, she, and Liza have begun a whiskey-fueled game of Truth Or Dare.  And all the while, Luna keeps impersonating her roommate online, leading Sam to ask Liza how she can write so casually and explicitly about sex yet be so uptight whenever they’re together.  (Conveniently, Liza doesn’t ask Sam what he means.)  
Liza keeps falling deeper and deeper, Sam keeps pulling away from her, Luna keeps being Luna, and The Something-Nothing keeps getting darker and darker. “Why does pain always have to camp out in my body,” wonders Liza, “and why does it always have to have a man’s face?” Sam is nothing but a “something-nothing,” Luna warns Liza.  “He has something that you can feed off of, but in the end he makes you feel that you’re nothing.”  Then there are those Tuesday roommate-on-roommate nights that drive Luna wild but Liza maybe not so much so. This is some twisted stuff, but like a train wreck, you can’t look away, especially when the pathologically jealous and possessive Luna is center stage.

Edlow’s unique voice captures the way 20somethings talk (let’s call it Edlowspeak) and her cast of three speak it so spontaneously in its unexpected twists and turns that the audience feels like flies on the walls as Luna, Liza, and Sam live their screwed-up lives for our entertainment. (Don’t expect The Something-Nothing to win any GLAAD awards, though. Luna may well raise the hackles of lesbians in the same way that Sharon Stone’s psychopathic serial killer dyke did in Basic Instinct, though truth be told, Luna’s badness doesn’t quite match Catherine Trammel’s.)

Under Larry Clarke’s expert direction, the cast of The Something-Nothing form a perfectly-meshed team. The dazzling Bergere is a force of nature as Luna, a larger than life presence who wreaks havoc on anyone in her path.  Marks creates a vital and entirely real Liza in a performance that grows steadily stronger as her character falls deeper for the illusive Sam. The excellent Hoffer’s deadpan delivery keeps Sam ever enigmatic, the better to spark intermission and post-performance debate. 

The Something-Nothing uses the just-right set for the concurrently running Apartment 6 & 9, Sarah Templeton’s lighting cueing us to when Luna & Liza’s West Village apartment has become a tavern or the Staten Island Ferry. Steve Altman’s sound design has just the right Generation Y feel.  Marks and Bergere have designed their characters’ costumes with an understanding of what fashion choices each would make. Sam goes shirtless about half the time, perhaps because it’s still hot in September.

Though none of Edlow’s characters are people I’d have occasion to meet in my daily life, nor in fact would I care to meet them, I very much enjoyed spending time with them at The Lounge Theater.  For comedy laced with a bit of snake venom, The Something-Nothing can’t be beat.

The Lounge Theatre, 6201 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood. 

–Steven Stanley
June 10, 2009
                                                             Photos: Dana Hargitay

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