At the Athenaeum Theater, Cold Basement Dramatics presents Jenny Seidelman’s “Henry Moore is Melting”, a play that “imagines the story behind the true-life heist” of a two-ton metal sculpture from the garden of an English museum. The sculpture has been stolen by a handful of Irish “Travellers”, a nomadic, gypsy culture living on the outskirts of London. When the police come snooping around the Travellers’ community, tensions between two brothers arise and allegiances within the clan are tested.
In the first scene, fledging artist Tommy (Mickey O’Sullivan) recognizes the famous sculpture that his brother Finn (Ryan Hallahan) has lifted. As an art enthusiast, Tommy spends the rest of the story breaking laws and loyalties while trying to save the artwork from its fate as scrap metal. Seidelman has chosen her subject matter wisely, but unfortunately hasn’t extracted all the juice from it. Despite the 80-minute play feeling too long, I would argue for it to be longer. There’s room to further explore the importance of art—an arguably upper-class preoccupation—through the lens of a lower class minority, as well as beef up the complex relationship between brothers Tommy and Finn, a relationship on which the power of the play depends.
Save for Sarah Shirkey, who plays Tommy’s girlfriend, Carrie, and Adam Overberg, who plays Jimmy, another criminally inclined gypsy, the rest of the cast has a lot of trouble sustaining their Irish accents and this distracts heavily from their performances. On top of this, director Mikey Laird hasn’t elicited enough nuances from the actors. Each male character explodes with the same in-your-face anger or stands around with similar mouths agape.
Towards the end of the show, characters make a lot of exciting and surprising choices, but their actions feel forced rather than true. And as the believability breaks down, the poignancy just melts away.