Theater

Stone Cold Dead Serious; Losing Ground; Job: The Hip-Hop Musical

During the 90 minutes it takes for Wizemann's in-real-time drama to unfold, he sends five ground-losers to occupy a stool or slip into the grimy toilet. Diz-ball blonde Michelle (Eileen O'Connell), not above teasing a fellow player out of cash, is convinced she'll hit four aces any minute and eventually does, to her chagrin. Marty (Monique Vukovic) hopes dimly to match Jacks for cash she'll send to the son who's been taken from her. James (Mark Meyer) is determined to get back the $3000 he pissed away the previous night, and his girlfriend Reagan (Rhonda Keyser) wants to haul him out the door before either he or she drops all of their meager holdings. Turner (John Good) is the rare guy who knows to quit when he's ahead; Paul (Matthieu Cornillon) is rarer still—he doesn't gamble, only hoists the odd glass. The other nonplayer is bartender Kieran (Kendall Pigg), who manages the low-key operation with a muted voice and an iron fist.

Stone Cold Dead Serious: absurd surfaces and a touch of Murakami
photo: Steven Freeman
Stone Cold Dead Serious: absurd surfaces and a touch of Murakami

Details

Stone Cold Dead Serious
By Adam Rapp
Chashama
135 West 42nd Street
212-206-1515

Losing Ground
By Bryan Wizemann
The Paradise Theater
64 East 4th Street
212-206-1515

Job: The Hip-Hop Musical
By Jerome Saibil and Eli Batalion
Here
145 Sixth Avenue
212-647-0202

As playwright, Wizemann crisply shorthands a bunch of woebegones whose bent poses are a visual pun, i.e., they look down. He also makes a mistake that's become common these days. Thinking to get away with a fast-in-fast-out piece, he presents a situation bursting with possibilities and then only begins to probe them. As director, he makes a different kind of mistake. A member of Tom Noonan's Paradise Theater Company, where a particular brand of naturalism is promulgated, he's told his actors—all of them accomplished—to behave as if they're in an actual bar, relating to one another with little regard for whether the audience can hear them. In theory it's a sensible idea, but in practice it leaves something to be desired. How do ticket buyers realize these dispirited folks have nothing to say to one another if they can't be heard saying it? —David Finkle

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