After the Circuit
nytheatre.com review by Kimberly Wadsworth
August 12, 2012
Life hasn't been easy for the characters in Josh Billig's After The Circuit. Theo Segal (Sam Hicks), formerly the straight man in the vaudeville act he had with twin brother Alex, is struggling as a solo act after his brother's death from an overdose. In the meantime he and his wife Sarah (Sarah Sirota) are living in his brother's old apartment, with Alex's widow Betsy (Kay Capaso), who is still grieving in her own complicated way—which often involves locking horns with Theo. But Betsy and Theo are also grieving themselves, for their own stillborn child. And on top of everything else, it's the Depression. But shortly after Sarah decides to stay with her aunt in Vermont a while to sort her thoughts out, Theo realizes his battles with Betsy have a certain wit—and proposes that she replace Alex by his side onstage, as a pairing not unlike George Burns and Gracie Allen. Betsy agrees—but goes even further, pressing Theo to also replace Alex by her side in bed.
Billig delineates all the characters with great care. Even the neighbor Mrs. Swanson (Polly McKie)—whose first appearance as a boisterous chummy Irish neighbor is a character I've seen before—gets fleshed out beautifully, in a powerful scene in which she reveals the depth of her own tragedy. And two smaller roles—that of Mrs. Swanson's polio-stricken son and that of a brash variety-show host—also are distinct and memorable. Those last parts are both handled by Christopher Sears, who tackles the handful of smaller roles with aplomb—and even does a memorable impression of King Kong at one point. We also get to see a taste of Theo and Betsy's act, with Hicks and Capaso ably taking on their straight man/dizzy blonde stage personas.
After The Circuit may not seem like traditional FringeNYC fare, but it has a deft cast and nuanced writing, and ably earns its applause at the end of the night.