Scripter-helmer Alex Carver has fashioned an occasionally clever but frustratingly one-sided chronicle of writer wannabe Aaron (Boomie Aglietti), a nebbishy “nice guy” whose life is absorbed by the relentless, self-serving agenda of nubile yoga instructor Suzanne (Danielle Hartnett). Despite impressive, nuanced perfs by Aglietti and Hartnett, “Naked Yoga” fails to project thematic veracity. Carver is so intent on piling on the indignities Suzanne inflicts on Aaron that he offers no variation on the theme and no satisfactory resolution to this monumentally uneven conflict.
Aglietti exudes the proper hopeful callowness of a Hollywood neophyte who can’t believe his good fortune when the beautiful babe he meets at a bar slips her phone number into his back pocket.
His giddy sense of having “gotten lucky” escalates when the disarming Suzanne says she prefers to have their first date at his tiny apartment rather than going out for dinner. While Aaron’s hopes spiral downward, Aglietti exudes every shift in Aaron’s growing frustration and diminishing masculinity as Suzanne proceeds to take over his flat and his life.
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Hartnett is perfectly cast as Suzanne, the leggy beauty who casually tips her ultimate plans by suggesting Aaron read the female-dominating Greek comedy “Lysistrata.” Despite sleeping naked in his bed, the constantly perky yoga lady always finds reasons to avoid consummating their ever-entangled relationship. As Suzanne good-naturedly continues to skewer her helpless victim, Hartnett offers well-timed revelations into the marauding darkness of Suzanne’s soul.
Serving as an ineffective one-person Greek chorus to Aaron’s woes is best friend Derrick (Dion Lack). Carver doesn’t give Derrick enough presence in Aaron’s life to offer much counterbalance to Suzanne’s escalating superiority. Derrick’s contributions are further undermined by Lack’s undernourished portrayal. His lack of vocal projection renders his dialogue almost inaudible.
Faring much better are Kelly Lett as Aaron’s volatile, no-nonsense neighbor Jill and Elizabeth Southard as Mrs. Patterson, Suzanne’s socially pretentious mother who offers strong clues to the roots of her daughter’s emotional dysfunction. Rodrigo Robles is effective in a brief turn as Suzanne’s emasculated, discarded fiance Alistair.
Despite offering tantalizing glimpses of the scripter’s ability to craft stageworthy character interactions, Carver’s 90-minute two-acter aborts its premise rather than resolving it. If some effort were made to expand the emotional range and resolve of the central character, “Naked Yoga” could have the legs to move to the next level.
The sound design of Sean Ho is to be lauded for its tantalizing use of Leonard Cohen’s haunting 1960s ballad “Suzanne.”