Theater Worth Venturing Outside to See

Written by Doug Strassler on . Posted in Arts & Film, Theater.


For those people able to get out and around in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, here are a few worthy options to check out:

The Other Josh Cohen

This clever musical comedy, co-written by and co-starring performers David Rossmer and Steve Rosen, takes two differing looks at down-on-his luck New Yorker Josh Cohen. There is Past Josh (Rosen), reeling from a series of heartbreaks and an apartment break-in that has taken everything from him but a Neil Diamond CD he got for free, and Narrator Josh (Rossmer), nine months older than his former self, both of whom fill us in on his love and life woes, hilariously set to a very Diamond-like score.

Seemingly fated for misfortune, a windfall comes to Josh in the form of a$56,000 check that arrives under mysterious circumstances. Should he take the money and run? The two Joshes ruminate over this while encountering a slew of characters, played by Hannah Elless and an especially delightful Kate Wetherhead (and occasional appearances by the show’s backing band), including neighboring lesbians and doddering Jewish mothers. Rossmer and Rosen, who wrote the show’s book, lyrics and music, have crafted a perfectly-paced feel-good musical that belies all the hard work that surely went into the show (director Ted Sperling also keeps this light show on its feet). Filling the small SoHo Playhouse, this laugh-a-minute show that proves that size doesn’t matter.

Through Nov. 11 at the SoHo Playhouse, 15 Van Dam Street. (212) 352-3101. www.ovationtix.com.

 

Alicegraceanon

Photo by Jim Baldassare

Kara Lee Corthron’s Alicegraceanon, directed with verve by Kara-Lynn Vaeni, is an intriguing mash-up of three linked female characters of varying amounts of realism: Alice Liddell, the inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s titular heroine (played by Teresa Avia Lin); Grace Slick (Carolyn Baeumler), Jefferson Airplane front woman and writer of “White Rabbit,” and Anonymous (Christina Pumariega), the author of the “Rabbit”-themed “Go Ask Alice” watershed novel.

Alicegraceanon plunges its three title heroines into a surrealistic limbo in which they object, and try to reject, the dominant male forces in their lives. For example, Alice is angry at paramour Charles Dogdson (Eric Clem) for airing their private relationship details. Vaeni’s topsy-turvy production has boundary issues – it sometimes feels more crazy than controlled, sometimes putting the audience too much on edge – and its leading ladies occasionally overact. Slick is arguably the play’s most interesting character, though Baeumler makes her more manic than the real one’s cool demeanor would have allowed. Still, it is to be given credit for its lofty ambitions and for its strong feminist ethic.

Irondale Center, 85 S. Oxford St. Through Nov. 9. www.irondale.org.

 

Follow

Photo by Hunter Canning

New York theatre artists Crystal Skillman and Daniel Talbott are among the most fearless storytellers around. Who else would shove ten audience members at a time into a small East Village apartment for the intimate tale Skillman’s new play, Follow, has to tell? It’s a fractured family reunion tale, in which brothers Josh (Jerry Matz) and Noah (Matthew Lewis) reunite at the deathbed of Lily, Noah’s offstage wife. Sidney (Addie Johnson), their estranged and troubled daughter, has also returned home.

Johnson, Lewis and Matz tell their tales, including long-harbored secrets and frustrations, in searing monologues delivered to the audience with great power. The riveting delivery helps overcome some of Skillman’s familiar plotting. The decision to stage these scenes along with glimpses into the lives of three other apartment dwellers is puzzling. Talbott’s staging is crisp enough that shortly into the piece we can figure out what it is going on, but I am not sure that it distracts more than it adds to the moving central story at Follow’s heart. But it is definitely a beating heart, and an experience I must recommend.

Fanfare, 100 E. 4th St. Through Nov. 3.

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