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Irene, newly arrived in the Coney Island of the early 22nd century, solicits advice about adjusting to the big city, or at least its outskirts. “You will learn to say ‘life’ when you really mean ‘work,'” predicts her friend Harry, “and ‘fun’ when you mean ‘anxious’ and ‘tired’ when you mean ‘sick.'” Apparently, the future is now.
Like New Yorkers of today, the young adults in Ethan Lipton’s Goodbye April, Hello May drink too much, subsist mostly on hummus, and hate their jobs. Admittedly, those jobs have somewhat altered. Elementary school teachers carry handguns and occasionally plug their charges. (“Finally I said, ‘No, fuck you, Emily! You don’t get a fucking star.’ She leapt for my throat.”) And public-relations workers must have sex with their clients. Wait, is that really such a change?
In Lipton’s New York, explosions occur hourly and the quaffing of bottled water is more necessity than pretension. Yet it isn’t the calamities of the future that interest Lipton. He focuses primarily on the interaction between two sisters, Irene (Kelly Mares) and Paula (Maria Striar), and their roommates and lovers—five adults all sharing one very small apartment. The science-fiction patina conceals a series of relationship dramas.
Like Lipton’s earlier play 100 Aspects of the Moon, Goodbye April, Hello May succeeds as individual scenes, but doesn’t cohere. Tom and Irene fall in love; Frank and Paula try to keep from falling out of it; Harry seeks a career more rewarding, if not more remunerative, than dealing drugs. The different storylines coexist pleasantly, though they don’t really enhance one another.
But if Lipton’s structure vexes, his dialogue and characters delight, especially when played by director Patrick McNulty’s uniformly excellent cast, which includes Bill Coelius, Albert Aeed, and Gibson Frazier as the pistol-packing teach. And amid the privations and explosions and excellent one-liners, Lipton also reveals much of the loneliness and longing in the heart of each Gothamite. We are all Harry, shuffling to the front door in our underwear, half-drunk, calling to an absent paramour: “Where is my love? Where is my rose? Where are the fingernails scratching my head? Where are my ta-tas? Where are my lips? Where is my Sunday brunch?”