nytheatre.com review by Spencer Chandler
Brian Sloan’s new play WTC View, effortlessly staged by
Andrew Volkoff, is about Eric, a neurotic gay photographer
living in Manhattan who, as the title indicates, enjoys a view
of the World Trade Center from his downtown apartment. 9/11
changes that, and even though he’s now left with no roommate, a
view of Ground Zero, and the wrenching smell of burnt electrics
and flesh, the prospective tenants who come to see the apartment
aren’t deterred. Reminiscent of Kennedy’s Children, with
a heavy dose of slice-of-life self-exploration, WTC View
offers an overview of New Yorkers soldiering on in the face of
August 15, 2003
Like the musings of Americans upon the assassination of JFK, these characters all have their unique perspective on 9/11, and each represents a different background. Yet central in all the scenes is Eric and his struggles post-breakup with his boyfriend, along with his devoted friend Josie in whom he regularly confides. The resulting dichotomy between personal and public feels like a constantly shifting aperture: muscular passages follow reality-conversation, communal commentaries give way to Eric’s navel gazing and panic attacks. It’s smoothly written, but by waging ideological and conversational battles on multiple fronts in the same flow, the play as a whole feels unfocused.
Which isn’t to say there aren’t bright spots. The cast has an overall easy familiarity with each other and show great chemistry, and the audience responded regularly with robust laughter. Jeremy Beazlie is an appealingly fussy Brit who comes to see the apartment, and Lucas Papaelias conquers his role as a noble derelict with impossibly beautiful timing, conveying sleaze and sweetness with irresistible zeal. Liz Kapplow as Josie has a vocal and physical confidence that is strikingly good, and Michael Linstroth as an uptight Democrat succeeds fully. Michael Urie as Eric has the unfortunate burden of carrying on for two intermissionless hours in repetitive poses and inert self-examination. And Jay Gillespie and Nick Potenzieri, fine actors both, suffer from entering the fray after the 90-minute mark, when the direction, writing, and minimal set design have begun to tire. Jim Van Bergen's sound design plays its role with good taste, creating a haunting and effective city soundscape throughout.
The events of 9/11 have inspired a great many artists to delve deeply into the human condition. Sloan and Volkoff give it a good shot, but against such monumental expanse, even finely observed dialogue and scenes begin to feel dated as soon as they're uttered. It’s a tough nut for anyone writing about 9/11 to crack.