A segment of New Yorkers speculate over real estate, not in the buy-sell, fix-and-flip sense, but out of a prurient inquisitivity. These folks are fascinated by how much their neighbors paid, the size of their acquisitions, whether there is a space for storage. Our curiosity is piqued by all things realty.
Judging by what can transpire when facing a coop board as witnessed in Richard Curtis’ new play Quiet Enjoyment we are right to wonder. The behaviors of those tasked with protecting their building’s integrity can prove, to put it delicately, very difficult.
Some years ago, Charles Grodin also explored the relationships of a upper east side board of coopers inThe Right Kind of People. Mr. Curtis, a multi-talented literary agent and author of a myriad of plays, a novel, a column in a publication called Locus. and some non-fiction about the publishing industry, picks up the subject and its endless fascination in his newest work.
Quiet Enjoymentruns from October18th through November 3rd at The Playrrom Theatre. For tickets click here.
The New Group’s presentation of Seth Zvi Rosenfeld’s Downtown Race Riot, based on true events and running through December 23rd at the Pershing Square Signature Center, resonates with menace.
It’s us against them, even for Marcel “Massive” Baptiste (Moise Morancy), a kid born in Haiti, who feels it’s his neighborhood he’s defending from other blacks and ‘Ricans who come to the Park near his Greenwich Village home.
The boys Massive considers his friends are old-school, insular Italians, like his tagger buddy Jay 114 (Daniel Sovich) and Tommy-Sick (Cristian DeMeo), whom his best friend Jimmy– aka Pnut– Shannon (David Levi) does not fully trust. Pnut does not share Massive’s community zeal, and his mother, Mary Shannon ( Chloë Sevigny) advocates for peace and love. Molly, strung out and living on welfare, maintains a kind of hippie sensibility. Her children, especially Pnut, look out for her. Mary’s daughter, Joyce (Sadie Scott) wants out of the life she sees around her and has a good chance to make it out.
Jay 114 and Tommy-Sick are among those who organized the riot meant to drive outsiders out of their stomping ground.
Rounding out the cast of characters is Mary’s lawyer, Bob Gilman (Josh Pais. who is perfectly twitchy in this small role). Bob is there to help Mary out with one of the many schemes she dreams up to make the family rich.
The acting in this ensemble, under Scott Elliott’s direction, is excellent and natural. There is a leisurely pace to the piece that belies its undercurrent of tension. In its unhurried progression, Downtown Race Riottakes its time to develop the characters. Derek McLane has designed an expansive and sprawling set for Downtown Race Riot; the scene is Mary’s Section 8 home.
Don’t look for uplift in Downtown Race Riot. This is not the genteel world of a Henry James pastiche.
There is a short street in the East Village which goes two-ways but is at its heart a one-way street. 425 Lafayette Street, formerly the Astor Library, was saved from demolition, and gained landmark status, when Joseph Papp turned it into The Public Theater.
A part of the theater’s mission statement says “THE PUBLIC is theater of, by, and for the people. Artist-driven, radically inclusive, and fundamentally democratic, The Public continues the work of its visionary founder Joe Papp as a civic institution engaging, both on-stage and off, with some of the most important ideas and social issues of today.” The Public began life in 1954 as the New York Shakespeare Festival, but moved into 425 Lafayette in 1967. Fittingly, the opening production was the innovative and “radically inclusive” Hair, a musical that has had many revivals over time, including the one in 2011 at the St James Theatre in Times Square.
In honor of the 50 year anniversary of the Public, Lafayette at Astor Place will be co-named Joseph Papp Way on December 1 at 8:30a.m. The Public’s Artistic Director, Oskar Eustis will be at the ceremony along with Tom Finkelpearl, Commissioner of the Department of Cultural Affairs, Rosie Mendez, District 2 City Councilwoman, and Gail Papp, Public Theater Board Member. Gail Papp will unveil the commemorative sign, while Eustis will make a few remarks on the occasion.
The recent history of The Public has given us the 11 Tony winning Hamilton, which transferred to the Richard Rodgers Theatre in 2015. This year, John Leguizamo brought his downtown show, Latin History for Morons, to Broadway’s Studio 54. In addition to its free Shakespeare in the Park programs, The Public is also a recipient of countless awards and honors for its productions, which are represented not only on Broadway but on stages across the country and worldwide.
“Joe Papp changed the life of New Yorkers forever, creating a beloved institution devoted to making the life of our culture inclusive,” said Artistic Director Oskar Eustis. “It is thrilling that the city of New York will recognize him forever by co-naming this street for him.”
L-to-R Christopher Livingsont, Vanessa Kai, Jon Norman Schneider and Claudia Acosta. Photo by Carol Rosegg.
In Sarah Ruhl’s brilliant “Stage Kiss,” the character named He disparages a play that required more than two collaborators– “Isn’t a bad sign when three people wrote a play? I mean if two people wrote it, it’s one thing, but three, come on, three?”
So it’s probably not a good sign that there are five named playwrights on “The Architecture of Becoming,” at City Center Stage II through March 23rd. The enterprise, penned by Kara Lee Corthron, Sarah Gancher, Virginia Grise, Dipika Guha and Lauren Yee is represented by Siempre Norteada (Claudia Acosta), a writer who has a commission on the City Center. By the way, not only are there 5 writers, there are 3 directors for this hour and a half interlude.
L-to-R Christopher Livingston, Danielle Skraastad, Vanessa Kai and Claudia Acosts. Photo by Carol Rosegg.
There are other storytellers enacted in the vignettes that comprise this “play,” including Vanessa Kai’s Tomomi Nakamura, a 1940 Japanese housewife who wants only to tell her own story. “I only want to play myself I only want to tell my story. I only want to tell my story. Does that mean I am not an actress?” Siempre Norteada merely connects the pieces, or does her best to do so.
Vanessa Kai as Tomomi and Danielle Skraastad as Virginia, the fishmonger. Photo by Carol Rosegg.
“The Architecture…” is meant to be a paean to the building, in which the Women’s Project has found its
home. There are references to the City Center’s rich history. It is also an ode to artists who come to New York to seek inspiration.
The actors, Danielle Skraastad, Jon Norman Schneider, Christopher Livingston, and the aforementioned
Vanessa Kai and Claudia Acosta, all fine, are ill-served by this hodgepodge.
City Center, the glorious recently restored 90 year old landmark which started life as a Masonic Temple,
and now is home to theater and ballet from around the world, deserves better too.
Everything in “Through The Yellow Hour” is site specific. The city has been attacked by the Egg Heads, who are systematically killing off the populaton. Ellen (Hani Furstenberg) is holed up in her East Village apartment, waiting for her husband Paul to return. She is the ultimate survivor, trading for foodstuffs and drugs through a network outside her well-fortified door. The first of the nightmares from outside creeps in through a window and ends as the Dead man (Brian Mendes), slumped on the floor for the rest of the play.
There is safety in Pennsylvania, as Maude (Danielle Slavick) tells her when she drops off her baby girl in exchange for a fix. “There are barges you can get on. They’re traveling south along the shallows of Lake Erie,” she says. When Ellen responds that her plans for escape are “risky,” Maude says “No riskier than staying here.” Gunfire and the occasional explosion punctuate the dialogue, in “Through The Yellow Hour,” like a soundtrack of terror, designed by Christian Frederickson.
The end of times vision in “Through The Yellow Hour” is further accentuated by the elaborately derelect sets by Andromache Chalfant, and moody lighting of Keith Parham. This is a mesmerizing and puzzling drama, with a superb cast led by Hani Furstenberg.