By Christian Viveros-Fauné
By Miriam Felton-Dansky
By Tom Sellar
By Tom Sellar
By Jessica Dawson
By Tom Sellar
By R. C. Baker
By Tom Sellar
McCoy reveals this tale after he's established the eponymous couple's plight: They're attempting to escape a burning building. And because doom seems imminent, we watch the playwhich jets back and forth through timenot so much intrigued by how Eli has internalized his mother's story, but waiting for the moment when Eli survives and Cheryl (Cassandra Vincent) dies. Director Nicole A. Watson's elegantly minimalist staging creates some tension, and Vincent charms, playing a host of roles, from Eli's mom to a high school girlfriendthe princesses in this promising, but unnecessarily convoluted attempt at a theatrical fairy tale. ANDY PROPST
Emlyn Morinelli and Jennifer Sanders, the authors/performers of A Fine Line, each have extensive improv credits. Sadly, their work here retains some of this genres less welcome traits (awkward pauses and interruptions, half-baked sequences that overstay their welcome practically on arrival) minus the compensatory flashes of spontaneity and off-the-cuff ingenuity. The result, directed rather choppily by Gary Rudoren, is a sort of shaggy-doctor tale that mashes a publicity-mad periodontist, unrequited love, and a chipper womens-prison inmate (she pins Cathy comic strips on her cellmates wall) into a scattershot and ultimately unfulfilling comedy.
Both women contribute a decent variety of characters, with Ms. Sanders showing a slight advantage in terms of versatility. And the seemingly disparate threads end up converging in a satisfying and not implausible way. But this is slim consolation given the slightness of many of these threads. A final twist implies that excessive enjoyment of ones surroundings can tip abruptly into psychotic rage. By this standard, audience members at A Fine Line should be safe. ERIC GRODE
By Stanton Wood
CSV Flamboyan Theater
107 Suffolk Street, fringenyc.org
The original Candidean 18th-century novella by Voltaireskewered Enlightenment-era optimism, presenting such unflattering portraits of the French government and clergy that the book was banned immediately. But Candideeluded the censors grasp, surviving to become a perennial vehicle for satirizing bigotry and political blindness.
Stanton Woods snappy adaptation, Candide Americana, fits squarely into this tradition, selecting a target closer to home: Voltaires trek through 18th-century Europe becomes an amusement-park ride through post-9/11 America. Woods Candidenaively chasing his true love, and bumping into his tutor, the unflinchingly optimistic Dr. Pangloss, along the wayescapes the Staten Island Ferry crash, an abortion clinic protest, the September 11 attacks, Hurricane Katrina, and an unmarked CIA detention center. If this is the best of all possible worlds, what are the other ones like? our hero wonders.
Few of Woods jokes are new or unexpected, but the quick dialoguebolstered by Edward Elefterions efficient direction and a boisterous ensemblemakes for an amusing, if safe, diversion. Centuries later, Voltaires classic is still a sturdy framework for cultural caricature and quick political jabs. MIRIAM FELTON-DANSKY
David S. Singer's Union Squared would seem to have the right elements for a zippy contemporary comedy. Brad (Levi Sochet) is having an affair with Shannon (Carlina Ferrari), his yoga instructor/masseur, but one day mistakenly sends a text to his wife Rachel (Annie Meisels) rather than Shannon. When Rachel confronts Shannon, the two realize they should join forces to teach Brad a lesson, and ultimately they embark on an affair of their own. Complicating this messy triangle is Brad's need to maintain the appearance of a happy marriage for his mother Sophie (Anita Keal). She's about to give him control of a $27 million bank account that could rescue his devastatingly bad investments.
Singer undermines the promise of Union, though, by layering on mammoth amounts of commentary about unscrupulous businessmen and addictive behavior. Director Diana Basmajian only compounds the scripts problems with a flaccid, perfunctory staging that deflates potentially zestful comic situations. The performersparticularly Ferrari and Meiselsattempt to instill some lightness into the production, but it's not enough to energize this leaden piece. ANDY PROPST
By Théâtre du Rêve Expérimental
New School for Drama
151 Bank Street, fringenyc.org
You can leave your cell phone on during the performance of e-Station. Thats because in this dreamlike movement piececreated by Chinese company Théâtre du Rêve Expérimentalcell phones, digital cameras, and other electronic media devices are the stars of the show.
Inspired by the physical techniques of director Ohta Shogo, e-Station sets its performers mesmerizingly deliberate motion against technological gadgetrys speed. With ritual solemnity, the black-clad actors drag computer keyboards along the floor, swath themselves in cable, and pan video cameras across the audience, projecting live feed onto a screen upstage. Cell phones blink like giant fireflies in the darkness.
e-Stations sensual approach to digital devices helps us see them as objects, not just gateways to images or information. Occasionally, I wanted more from the troupea comment on their digital dance, or an electronic apotheosis. But technology is a constant backdrop in the world outside, and as e-Stations performers inch out of the theater, keyboards and cables in tow, its clear that revealing our real-life digital surroundwithout conclusion or culminationis the point. MIRIAM FELTON-DANSKY