nytheatre.com review by John Jordan
May 12, 2007
I found myself nearly choking with laughter throughout this dangerously first-rate, politically incorrect, dark comedy about an attempted rape. What what what, you ask??!!?? Rape and comedy??? I know. But seriously, Wanderlust Productions' modernized version of Darlene's Craviotto's rarely-produced 1986 play works on many different levels—hysterical, worrisome, and even humane.
Julie and Alice are roommates. Julie has lost her job today apparently because she would not "hang" with her boss after hours. Alice has lost her boyfriend, who just went back to his wife; therefore, she is depressed and hungry, even after two dinners (eating disorder alert). There is no food in the apartment. Why? Julie spent the grocery money on alcohol and has been knocking it back all day (drinking problem alert).
After some roommate banter, it does not take long for the duo to blame their problems on men. They decide to disgrace one via rape. That is correct. They decide to rape a man. While frantically trying to select the perfect chap to violate, in walks Eddie, the pizza man. (Alice gave in to her urges and ordered a large pie.) I don't think I even have to explain much more. The set up is all anyone needs to enjoy this top-rate production.
Craviotto's script is quite entertaining on its own. Not only is it freakin' hilarious, but it has compassion. But why this production works is the collaboration of director, actors, and crew, working with said script, and turning it into something exceptional.
Director Austin Pendleton thankfully never goes the madcap farce route, instead keeping it real and keeping his actors grounded at all times. Pendleton seizes every opportunity with the blocking to give the actors exactly what they need to get out of each new situation. Whether feeling physically trapped or sexy or withdrawn, there is always enough space, or not enough, as needed, in this tiny apartment in Astoria, NYC.
Lyndsey Anderson exerts the perfect mixture of bravado, sexiness, and compassion to make Julie accordingly intense. You can almost feel her tension and her thought process seems to explode on the stage. Anderson is a huge talent for whom to keep an eye out.
As Alice Meyerlink, the hyper Jewish lass who has just been dumped by her latest married boyfriend, Micha Lazare takes her time to bring this character into our hearts, capturing her naivete and zaniness in equal measure.
Kyle Wood plays Eddie with all the sincerity of a good-natured, church-going, country farm boy. My only concern with setting this play in Astoria is casting Eddie as a purebred white boy. I have lived in NYC for 15 years and not once have I had a purebred white boy deliver me any pizza. It took me out for a moment, but Wood brought me back in with Eddie's very likeable persona.
Lighting designer Robin A. Paterson hits the switch and we can see exactly what we are supposed to see. Stage manager Kathryn "China" Hayzer, production assistant Hans Eagle, and production consultant David Semonin deserve props for undoubtedly handling the actual props, as well as all the fantastic set dressing, which completely turn this little black box into an apartment in Astoria rented by two somewhat messy girls.
As an added bonus, paying audience members are treated to pizza, beer, and wine before the show. Unfortunately, I never got my pizza, beer, or wine. Was there water or soda for non-drinkers? I am not sure.
I was not bitter. Just a little hungry—seeing and smelling all that fantastic, free pizza deliciously donated though ad space from Famous Original Ray's Pizza right around the corner. Sigh. As a note to those interested in receiving the goodies, I would suggest arriving early. (I tend to arrive just five minutes prior to curtain time.)
Luckily, the grumbling of my hungry stomach was completely covered by the continuous laughter coming from not only my own body, but pretty much everyone else in the audience, pretty much most of the evening. And even though I did not get my piece of the actual pie, this Pizza Man most surely delivers and deserves a huge tip!