Feeding the Moonfish, Sanctuary Productions, at Voltaire. If I hadn't already seen a flawed but far superior production of Barbara Wiechmann's dreamy one-act, I would probably have assumed this play was pompous nonsense. And admittedly the setup is somewhat pat and contrived, reminiscent of John Patrick Shanley: late at night on a Florida pier, a lovelorn teenage girl whose mother and grandmother killed her father seeks love and companionship from a mad young loner haunted by his father's suicide and lured by moonfish to commit violent acts. Yet Wiechmann's script has a wonderfully moody sense of poetry, and the imagery of this doomed nocturnal encounter is strangely hypnotic.
Alas, little of the poetry is evident in this flatly performed, indifferently directed Sanctuary production. As the girl, Katherine Cohn is credible enough at first, but her lip-smacking, tough-talking, hands-on-hips routine lacks depth. And Rick Redondo's sullen, one-note Martin converts rich descriptions into rote recitation. The echoing, disembodied voices of the titular talking fish sound not so much like intoxicating sirens as the breathy Wendy and Lisa of the artist formerly known as Prince's old band the Revolution. These young performers are aided little by director Alyssa Jaquelyn, whose staging cripples Wiechmann's prose and renders the chilling climax implausible and unaffecting.