E TO JAMAICA CENTER
nytheatre.com review by Hope Cartelli
I haven’t seen such a motley crew of New Yorker stereotypes on the set
of a train car since The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3. Dark Moon NYC’s
E to Jamaica Center is hoping, I think, to make us care about
these stereotypes (there are 26 in all). While that goal is never fully
realized, the cast is so energetic and engaging, I couldn’t help but be
entertained at times.
August 15, 2002
Playwright Jericho Turner is interested in the poetically ironic and chooses some classic subway passengers of yore to do his O. Henry-type work. In the opening minutes a stripper with a heart of gold, working to feed her child, quotes Robert Frost as swiftly and deftly as she curses out a suitor the next seat over. Later a seemingly ruthless financial executive on his way to work reveals that he secretly loves to give away money to the homeless denizens of the subway deep he encounters every day (said executive is commuting to the World Trade Center as this E train exists in pre-September 11th New York). There is even the train’s resident "bum" who turns out to be so wise about the world, an oracle ahead of his time. Observing the rules of a good O. Henry yarn, I prepared myself for the bum to be the father of the executive or the stripper, or for some other action-altering plot line but, alas, the characters never get beyond treating each other as their confessors/sounding boards.
There are numerous other troubled souls on this E, harboring prejudiced, lovelorn, drunken, etc., skeletons in their various closets that they divulge readily to anybody, listening or not. Is this Turner’s theory of what would happen if one day on your daily subway rounds everyone in your car decided to turn to each other and, sans personal introductions, give each other their condensed life history? If the answer is yes, my only qualm as a native New Yorker is that I hope we are far more unique than Turner gives us credit for being.