nytheatre.com review by Keelie A. Sheridan
August 14, 2011
New York lures in thousands of new faces each month with its promises of success, greatness and fulfillment. Dreamers young and old flock to this place where anything is possible. This constant stream of incoming hopefuls is made possible by our beloved city’s equally developed aptitude to crush those same dreams, repelling about as many people as it attracts. The reasons to come to New York are as varied as its inhabitants, but most people leave with the similar sentiments; particularly when those people are artists.
Brenton Lengel’s Mic. offers a glimpse into what seems like an ordinary evening at an underground performance space’s weekly open mic. The cast of "regulars" mixes with a few newcomers, including an intoxicated Frenchman, a stranger decked out in kilt and sporran, and a homeless man. Between musical acts and performance art pieces we learn about the interwoven lives of this particular artist-clan. Threatened with the closing of their beloved space, these individuals are forced to question their beliefs about art, love and life in NYC.
As the audience enters the Flamboyan Theatre, they are immediately immersed in the world of Mic. Actors mingle with the crowd, play music and settle in for the evening. It’s nearly impossible to determine who’s in the play—performers pop up from every corner of the space. Performances by this ensemble cast are very strong across the board—some are featured mainly in their presentations at the open mic, others in the intermittent scenes between acts; all are honest and extremely enjoyable to watch. Standouts include Brian “Beezy” Douglas as the unassuming-yet-brilliantly-talented musician Virgil; Ben Prayz’s Joel, a sobering (though mildly intoxicated) homeless man; and Kate “D’Evil” Deville, the defiantly and unintentionally inactive performance artist played by Lauren Ferebee. The writing and music are solid, relatable and heartbreakingly familiar.
Mic. examines the experience of creating in a society that does not always support independent efforts. What makes art worth making? Very few would insist that something has to make money or reach vast audiences or receive critical acclaim to be valuable, but the consistent void of said factors is highly erosive to morale. Ultimately, every artist must acknowledge what she or he hopes to gain from what they create and determine how successful they must be in the pursuit of these ends to be fulfilled.