A View From 151st Street

Bob Glaudini's urban slice-of-life drama

Smooth jazz strains mix enticingly with the jagged beat and rhymes of gangsta rap in A View From 151st Street, Bob Glaudini's urban slice-of-life drama. Grade-school teacher Irene (Elizabeth Rodriguez) uses a song from Li'l Kim to inspire her students. Drug dealer and would-be hip-hop star Delroy (Craig "muMs" Grant) improvises raps on a Harlem street corner. When Irene and her teacher sister-in-law Lena (Liza Colón-Zayas) grade their students' papers, light jazz plays in the background. The aural world ofView—created by sound designer Bart Fasbender, composer Michael Cain, and a combo led by Bryan Noll—is the most fascinating aspect of this intricately plotted play.


A View From 151st Street
By Bob Glaudini
Labyrinth Theater Company at the Public Theater
425 Lafayette Street

But it's surprising that View never crackles with the intensity of its rich soundtrack, especially when a police sting involving Lena's detective husband Daniel (Juan Carlos Hernandez) goes bad, sending Delroy's world colliding into the teachers'. Peter DuBois's lackadaisical staging only enhances a sense of aimlessness; the scenes involving the cop and his family feel mundane and strangely familiar, and Delroy's rap solos become wearisome (they turn increasingly incoherent as he descends into a crack-induced haze following his tragic encounter with Daniel). The piece flashes to life, though, whenever Ray (Andre Royo), a recovering crack addict and ex-Army bud of Daniel's, or Mara (Marisa Malone), a Russian émigré nurse caring for both men, are onstage. Here, there's a vibrancy in writing and performance that matches the glorious musical cacophony underscoring the characters' lives.

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