Stabilized Not Controlled
nytheatre.com review by Ed Malin
May 13, 2012
New York apartment dwellers usually share their buildings with lots of characters. Frank Blocker has taken the liberty of rolling 18 characters into a funny one-man show, Stabilized Not Controlled, divided into the tales "Fearless Moral Inventory" and "The War of Independence." In a nutshell, an already discontented bunch of tenants is further disturbed by the explosive construction of the 2nd Avenue Subway (which takes out the foundations of several neighboring buildings including a church) and by landlord "Killer Joe" Tennent, to whom nothing is sacred (he swears in church and intends to evict his low-paying renters).
Frank Blocker goes non-stop through the many conversations (and monologues, in the case of the less sane characters) one might overhear in an apartment building lobby and stairs.
Bizarre performer “Jackie O’Nasa” has broken in to the building’s basement. As a squatter, she pays even less than some residents who have been there since the '70s and whose rent-stabilized pads are cutting into Killer Joe’s profits. Chain-smoking (but sober for 30 years) Lorna Breedlove is charmingly reminiscent of a non-prudish Edith Bunker. She has seen it all, and intends to outsmart Killer Joe. She is happy to gossip about the “crazy actress” Iona upstairs, who has become British because of her adopted accent. 40-year-old stoner Jon-Paul Ringo Georges lives with his grandmother and loves to talk endlessly about these developments.
Killer Joe is working with soon-to-be-disbarred lawyer Rovenna LoGuidice (rhymes with pre-ju-dee-cee) to kick out some tenants. She suggests a lock on the basement which only opens from the outside. This is not legal, and Killer Joe himself gets locked in the basement. But of course that’s only the beginning of the story, and you should go experience the rest.
Frank Blocker may be performing a 70-minute show, but he is working harder than most ensembles I’ve seen. His characters’ voices are all distinctive, and he uses his two props/set pieces (a podium and a hand bag) to place the characters on a balcony or the basement stairs or in a church confessional. Director Jeffrey Edward Peters is to be congratulated for making all this work as a fast-paced whole. It’s very New York!