Last night I was invited to see The Qualification of Douglas Evans, by Derek Ahonen, the second play currently playing in rep with Enter on Forest Lane, both produced by The Amoralists. I hadn’t noticed the tag line on their logo when I saw Forest Lane last weekend, but it says, “a two play repertory exploring man’s vicious cycles.” Well, Douglas Evans was definitely about a man in a vicious cycle of codependence and alcoholism.

Douglas starts out an innocent college freshmen in New York City who is soon corrupted by a harlot from his college and soon after he’s introduced to booze and everything is down hill from there. A wanna-be actor, he soon turns into a wanna-be playwright who jumps from one codependent relationship with a quirky female to the next.

To say it was depressing is an understatement. But it was also really interesting. I kind of want to see it again to analyze it a bit more.

Derek Ahonen, who starred as Douglas in addition to writing the piece, was impeccable and highly impressive. The girlfriends played by Kelley Swindall, Mandy Nicole Moore, Samantha Strelitz, and Agatha Nowicki, were each convincing and endearing. Penny Bittone and Barbara Weetman as Douglas’ father and mother, in addition to a few other characters each, were also impressive.  

Clocking in at two and a half hours, this is definitely not a RomCom, but it’s a worthy play nevertheless.  

In a tiny room at the back of The Gershwin Hotel in Grammercy, a group of 20 people are treated to one of the most intense and intimate theatrical experiences in New York.  The Amoralists have struck dramatic gold again with their new production, HotelMotel, featuring Pink Knees on Pale Skin by Derek Ahonen, and Animals and Plants by Adam Rapp.  We were given hotel room keys on our way in for re-entry after the 30-minute intermission between plays.  

The first play, Pale Knees on Pink Skin, took place in a 5-star expensive hotel room and followed the story of an orgy therapist (yup!), her husband, and two couples whom she is trying to help (while playing with their minds, of course).  The seven actors were incredibly committed to the integrity of the piece, especially when one scene called for the acting of a husband performing oral on her wife to the point of climax.  The end of Pink Knees is ultimately depressing, but I completely enjoyed the script because of it’s immensely interesting medical analyzations of the two couples delivered by Dr. Sarah Bauer (played expertly by Sarah Lemp).  

James Kautz and Vanessa Vache as the older, more professional couple Robert and Caroline Wyatt, stay true to the characters of a wife who’s been cheated on and a husband trying to regain her trust.  However Byron Anthony and Anna Stromberg are also compelling and heartbreaking simultaneously as the younger, more artsy couple Theordore and Allison Williams, who struggle their inabilities to achieve intimacy in bed.  Rounding out the cast are Jordan Tisdale as Leroy, Dr. Lemp’s hurting boyfriend, and Nick Lawson as Dr. Bauer’s confused and timid son Norman.

Animals and Plants, on the other hand, made very little sense but somehow still manages to be entertaining (as Rapp plays so often are).  Animals is about two drug mules, Dantly (William Apps) and Burris (Matthew Pilieci) who are holed up in a disgusting motel room in Boone, NC and waiting for a delivery of drugs.  The plot is murky but surrounds what transpires between Dantly and a stereotypical tree-hugger type character who he’d met that day, Cassandra (Kaite Broad) and the haunting ghost of Cassandra’s ex-husband Buck (played frightening by Brian Mendes).  Honestly, I didn’t understand Buck’s nonsensical interruption of the action and the play wouldn’t have been any worse off without his presence.  The end of Animals is also depressing, and bloody, with the suspicious of betrayal and the exit of Cassandra.  

I will always love everything Adam Rapp writes, but in this instance I think I enjoyed Pink Knees on Pale Skin more.  Regardless of which play is “better,” if you can swing the $50 ticket price, you won’t regret it (through August only).  Visit The Amoralists website for more information.

(Photo by Monica Simoes. (L-R): Sarah Lemp as Dr. Sarah Bauer, Nick Lawson as Norman and Jordan Tisdale as Leroy in Pink Knees on Pale Skin.)

Ticket was graciously provided gratis by DARR Publicity.