Seen/By Everyone @ HERE 

Last weekend I was invited to see Seen/By Everyone at HERE down in SoHo. It was created and produced by the ensemble company of Five on a Match. Five on a Match is a collective making art that explores what it means to be a human being in the 21st century. 

The collective writes in the program that they did not “write” the show, they “collaged” it. They pulled from various forms of social media – I’d assume Facebook, Twitter, etc. – and created new characters that are not based on any one single person. The play was 80 minutes of vignettes of how people exist in the world when they post every second of their life to the internet. How they grieve; how they express happiness. 

Although it was a little hard to follow at times, it’s very avantgarde which is always fun and a change from the usual breed of standard straight plays. 

If you’re looking for something a little bit off the beaten path, Seen/By Everyone is your play. 

I found out that The Drama Book Shop was having some hard times when I saw a clip on Facebook from a local news channel. The short story: a pipe burst destroying much of their ceiling and a whole lot of inventory. Lin-Manuel Miranda posted a video about it on Twitter and patrons rushed into the store to help by spending money. Their sales are up 50% and they’re hoping their insurance kicks in sooner rather than later.

I spent many days during my college years (and even before that while I was in high school) wandering the shelves looking for plays for classes and to read on my own. I used to buy a few dozen plays there every summer, coming back once I had finished reading all my prior purchases. 

So, last Tuesday I wandered up 40th and 7th to pay homage to the store that was such a huge resource for me and I picked up a copy of Stephen Karam’s The Humans. I know I didn’t particularly fall head-over-heels in love with the show, but I think that’s because I probably missed a few subtleties. 

I wished the manager good luck with everything, said goodbye to the manager’s dog that sits on the counter, and was on my way.

If you’re in New York City, or are planning a visit soon, please stop by The Drama Book Shop and show your support. You can find out more information here

Random Christmas Present Success

I didn’t ask for much for the holidays this year. I don’t really need much. So, my mother said to me that she had to “improvise” a lot. Well, OK. My dad also came up with something neat – plastic Playbill covers! Playbill.com sells Playbill binders but they only hold 15 or so and they’re a complete rip off. Oh and I’d need about 75 of them to hold all of my Playbills. 

So, I went through one of my four shelves of Playbills last night and put the first 100 in plastic holders. Lots of good memories to be relived. Apparently I met Carrie Fischer (top right corner) in addition to having met Mark Hamill years ago!

Going forward, I might put all of my Playbills in alphabetical order. It is going to be a pain in the ass but it might make it easier to find things in the future. Perhaps. How do you guys store your Playbills? 

I went to see Kill Floor because I’d recently watched an episode of Law and Order: SVU that Marin Ireland was the guest star on and I missed seeing her onstage. I had no idea what it was about, but from the artwork, I guessed it was about the meat industry.

it was my first time in the Claire Tow Theatre at Lincoln Center – a totally hip and modern space, completely different than the Mitz E. Newhouse and Beaumont spaces. Kill Floor was about a woman named Andy who was recently released from prison and trying to restart her life. The only job she found was through a connection from high school on the kill floor of a factory farming meat plant. She has a son that she’s trying to re-establish a relationship with who wants nothing to do with her and is somewhat easily taken advantage of and sexually confused. 

The play ended extremely awkwardly and I’m not sure what it was trying to say, if it was trying to say anything. Marin was great, but I’m not sure this is the best play she’s been in. Lincoln Center gave it their best shot with Kill Floor. Not everything can be a hit though. 

Last weekend I was invited to see No-Win Production’s staging of WOYZECK, FJF at the New Ohio Theatre on Christopher Street. It was a re-telling of a modern classic by Georg Büchner. The Amoralist’s James Kautz (second from the right above) was starring as Woyzeck so I was excited.

It was good. I think I understood most of what happened and it reminded me a lot of the movie Shutter Island. Woyzeck is a former soldier (I think he was a soldier) who has now been institutionalized and is trying to sort through his past to figure out how he got there. It reminded me of Shutter island because he gets part of his brain removed and then I think it starts (or would, if the lights didn’t fade to black) all over again (his journey to discovery, that is). 

Kautz was fantastic and moving. The rest of the ensemble cast is also great, including Evangeline Fontaine, Mackenzie Knapp, Alessandro Colla, Isael McKinney Scott, and Jason Wilson. Director Jeremy Pape does an excellent job making use of his very small space for many scenes and lighting designer Evan Roby designed some very effective lighting. 

Woyzeck, FJF is dark and compelling. It plays through March 21st. More information can be found here

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.  

I was super excited when I was invited to The Amoralists’ newest production, Enter at Forest Lawn recently. The Amoralists are amazing and even though they’re productions are weird, to say the least, I love them.

Enter at Forest Lawn, written by Mark Roberts and directed by Jay Stull, was about a stressed out Hollywood television producer and how he’s manipulated by the people in his life. Mark Roberts spouted off line after line effortlessly as Jack, the always-stressed producer. The always-amazing Sarah Lemp was Jessica, Jack’s on-edge and less-than-competent assistant. Then there was Matthew Pilieci, another Amoralists member, who is consistently amazing and probably the stand out in the cast. David Lanson and Anna Stromberg round out the cast as a nervous staff member and a devious Hollywood columnist.

As with most productions by The Amoralists, I highly recommend Enter on Forest Lawn. It’s playing through August 9th down at the Walkerspace at 46 Walker Street. Click here for more information. 

Last weekend I was thoroughly surprised and delighted by this little show off-off-Broadway at MTC’s smallest stage at City Center, The Lion, written and performed by Benjamin Scheuer.

I’d read that it was about his life, so I expected it to maybe be a little self-indulgent and full of hyperbole, but it wasn’t. At all. It was deeply honest, at times very sad, with lots of comic relief to get you through the sad points. And Scheuer is a very attractive man who writes beautiful songs, so watching him play these songs is no hard task.

I had no idea what to expect going in to this but I’d be lying if I wasn’t telling everyone to go see it now. It’s really a gem.

Go see it

Several years ago Manhattan Theatre Club produced a show on Broadway called “Shining City.” It was about ghosts and it was interesting, but you didn’t go “oh my god!” until the final moment of the play right before the blackout. The Rattlestick Playwright’s Theater’s current production of “The Correspondent,” by Ken Urban, is kind of the same.

About a man named Philip (Thomas Jay Ryan) whose wife was murdered, shortly after the funeral he hires a service that gets paid for having their on-their-death bed employees deliver messages to their loved ones once they have also passed. Philip fought and slapped his wife the night before she was killed by a speeding driver and he questions whether or not she forgives him. Shortly after he speaks with the woman (Mirabelle, played by Heather Alicia Simms) who’s going to deliver his message, he starts receiving letters in his wife’s handwriting including intense detail about their relationship. Mirabelle decides to help him find out who’s leaving the letters (Jordan Geiger).

That’s when things get weird. Very weird. Sometimes awkward as well. But once the man gets his answer your jaw drops and the play is over and the black out occurs.

The writing was at times questionable but made sense at the end. The acting was solid and the set was simple and effective – a modest, well kept living room in a Boston apartment.

The last line though? It’s worth seeing just for the last line.

Be A Good Widow, at The Wild Project

Be a Good Widow was a cheeky melodrama about what happens to a mid-twenty-something after her husband of only a short time is killed in a plane crash.

Her weak relationship with her mother-in-law, who is also a widow, is put to the test and ultimately strengthened when she finally breaks down and lets her daughter-in-law in a little.

The script is equipped with dozens of quirky one-liners (thanks to playwright Bekah Brunstetter) that keep the audience focused and laughing.

The acting by the two men in the cast, Matt Bittner and Robbie Tann, were by far the strongest. Though I also enjoyed Chris Holliday as the mother-in-law and watching her character development.

The Wild Project is one of my favorite off-off spaces downtown and anytime I go there, I always enjoy myself. And Be A Good Widow was no different.

For more information about Be a Good Widow and The Wild Project, visit their website here

Full disclosure: Tickets were provided by DARR Publicity. Thank you! 🙂