Review: It’s A-Scary! The Gray Man and The Pumpkin Pie Show: Labor Pains

The Gray Man Promo Photo credit Suzi SadlerI officially kicked off my new theatre season, Halloween. T’is the season to get all creepy with these two amazingly well-written and contrasting plays.

I was super excited to finally see a Pipeline production as I’ve been following them for years. And they didn’t disappoint. Andrew Farmer’s The Gray Man tells a story of a bogeyman, a ghost or a figment of someone’s imagination. Set in the round, Andrew Neisler directs this emotionally disturbing piece by employing a sensory experience that sufficiently creeped out the audience. The use of disembodied voices and movement in darkness traps us in the story. We are not sure where to look or just keep our eyes shut and listen as if being told a nightmarish bedtime  story.  The creative team and stellar ensemble supported the narrative and each other as they weaved in and out of scenes. And nothing is scarier than a little girl in a scary story because nothing good usually comes out of it. I loved the use of the theatre space as well as varying levels. The one set piece at the middle of the space brilliantly represented the interior of a home. However, there were many moments when actors were out of sight or the set couldn’t be totally seen due to being stable for the whole show.

pumpkin_V2_300_123On the other end of the spectrum, is The Pumpkin Pie Show – Labor Pains which features five short stories told through absurd and fantastically comedic monologues. Clay McLeod Chapman, storyteller, is soon to be a daddy (true story) and shares the woes and fears and neuroses of being a parent. What if you are not the baby daddy? What happens if the oracular predictions your baby is making suddenly stop? Who is that random lady at the playground? Is that baby a terrorist? And what would a Mama Bird do for her baby chick? The fast-paced, quick witted, litany of words and emotions coming at the audience from Chapman and Cheek skyrocketed the audience to another dimension – a bizarro world – which is essentially parenthood.

Two fantastic shows. Be sure to get to a performance. My suggestion is to see both show back-to-back knowing you’ll need another hour to find your footing in reality.

See you at the show!

The Gray Man presented by Pipeline Theatre Company

Walker Space (46 Walker Street between Broadway and Church Street)

September 24-October 18,

Wednesday through Sunday at 8pm with additional performances on Saturday at 5pm and Tuesday, October 13 at 8pm.

Featuring Tahlia Ellie, Daniel Johnsen, Katharine Lorraine, Claire Rothrock, and Shane Zeigler. The production will include Lighting Design by Christopher Bowser, Costume Design by Daniel Dabdoub, and Scenic Design by Andy Yanni with an original score by Composers Mike Brun and Chris Ryan. Produced by Natalie Gershtein with Production Manager Joshua Shain and Stage Manager Kristy Bodall.

Visit www.pipelinetheatre.org for more info.

The Pumpkin Pie Show: Labor Pains, presented by FRIGID New York @ Horse Trade 

UNDER St. Marks (94 St. Marks Place between 1st Avenue and Avenue A)

September 24-October 10, Thursday through Saturday at 8pm

Featuring Hanna Cheek and Clay McLeod Chapman.

Visit http://claymcleodchapman.com/performances/the-pumpkin-pie-show for more info.

Review: Mend the Envelope by Jason Lasky

unnamedSometimes one can get so lost in dreams that reality is almost another realm. Jason Lasky’s Mend the Envelope tells the harrowing story of a married couple broken by events of a single poor decision. Questions of faith and purpose are told under the careful direction of Cihangir “G.” Duman. Set on a almost bare stage with set pieces strategically placed, Henry and Joanie Davis’ relationship unfolds before the audience. Played by  Andy Phillips and Brittany Belinski, the actors honestly share glimmers of a once successful and exciting life abroad to their current mundane and shattered life in upstate New York.  Fern Lim’s lighting and sound design flawlessly shifted us to dreamscape and added a another layer to the one act. I would love to read the next scene of this one act to find out where the Davises go in their relationship.

Mend the Envelope is playing as part of the Thespis Festival for two more performances.

Tuesday, September 22nd at 6:15 PM;
September 26 at 3:30 PM

Hudson Guild Theatre

441 W. 26th Street

Click HERE for more info.

Review: Olivia’s Roses by Joanne de Simone

“The war to end all wars.”

12033186_1488258154808000_5926881307510641709_nThree brothers. Three wounds. The woman in the middle of it all. I am already committed to the story. Joanne de Simone’s Olivia’s Roses is a story that reveals the pathology of a family. Set at the end of World War II, three brothers return home: one with a bride, one with physical and emotional wounds, and the other filled with dreams.

Dennis Gleason directs this captivating cast on a simple set perfect for this complicated story. A story intertwined with love, deceit and confusion. The strong ensemble is absolutely riveting to watch on stage.  It’s always a good sign when the audience applauses at the end of each scene. Led and brilliantly played by Brad Brockman (CADE), he is brooding, flawed, and absolutely riveting to watch on stage. Kalen J. Hall’s (JUDE)  transitions within his character is breathtaking to watch. Byron Hagan (LUKE) is the romantic, artistic and sensitive dreamer who makes you want him to be happy. Ashley V. Harris (OLIVIA) flawlessly juggles her relationships with each son. I appreciated her complexities and her honesty in her performance. Greg Schuh (Rev. Holden) is the pragmatist who knows way too much and maybe doesn’t play too close to the vest.  Rounding out this cast is Amy Losi (Martha), the matriarch is who is shrouded in secrets.

Olivia’s Roses is playing as part of the Thespis Festival. There are two more performances so be sure to take a friend so you can squeeze their knees during some revealing moments.

Friday September 18 at 9 pm;
Sunday September 20 at 3 pm

Hudson Guild Theatre

441 W. 26th Street

Click HERE for more info.