New York’s sewers include some 6,600 miles of mains and pipes—and very possibly alligators, but they have not, until now, also boasted a small living room peopled by grimy figures decked out in decrepit Victoriana. Apparently it wasn’t always like this, one sister fondly recalls to the other: “Remember when there was more? Remember the goddamn birds? They were fun, remember. . . . And soap. That used to be important.” Alas, birds and soap aren’t the only elements lacking in The Sewers, the grubbily gorgeous but ultimately watery performance piece by Banana Bag & Bodice.
As a playwright, extravagantly attired in morning coat, ascot, and galoshes, announces, we find ourselves in the village of the Sewers, the site of a love triangle among himself, his wife, and her sister, and an environment in which all children are dead. “They just died,” says the playwright (Jason Craig, who is also, incidentally, the author of the play’s text). “Let us move on.” Unfortunately, as he has managed to impregnate both sisters, that may prove difficult. The smutched set, a riot of newsprint and grating by Peter Ksander, is a wonder, as is the creaking, clattering score by Dave Malloy and spooky lighting by Miranda Hardy. But the script of The Sewers, a welter of symbol and self-reference indifferently performed, proves draining.