Too Little Too Late
nytheatre.com review by Richard Hinojosa
February 4, 2010
Red Elevator Productions has cobbled together six short plays that make for extremely entertaining night at the theater. Thematically each play is different from the next, but they all involve the lives of young people, mostly couples, sorting through an odd or awkward situation. You should be prepared to laugh a lot. The comedy ranges from dark to hilarious to downright bizarre.
The cast of six young actors is wildly talented. Daniel Abeles, Craig Jorczak, Jacob Murphy, Anna O'Donoghue, Laura Ramadei, and Claire Siebers each take on several different roles, showing off their versatility and skill in creating each character given to them.
The night begins with A Trip to Magic Island by Bekah Brunstetter. Ramadei and Siebers play Elli and Bridget, two old friends coming together in what appears to be a reunion designed to bring them closer after a long time apart. They eat mushrooms and proceed happily into their trip but there is an overbearing sense of awkwardness in their relationship. Ramadei and Seibers play this awkwardness very well and their trippy musings are quite funny but the story seems to end abruptly and there are no attempts made at resolution.
The next piece is The Christmas Present by Amy Herzog. Jorczak and O'Donoghue play a couple on the morning following a one night stand. The first thing we see is him sneaking out and her stopping him before he goes. She insists that he give her his contact information before he goes just in case something comes up...like an STD. As the play progresses we realize that he is not the person we assume he is and there is a nice turn-around. Herzog's writing is absolutely brilliant. It's dark, funny, and she puts a perfect little button on the end. Jorczak and O'Donoghue play these characters perfectly. This was my favorite piece.
Next is Flagged as Inappropriate by Sam Forman. Murphy, O'Donoghue, Ramadei, and Abeles play two couples hanging out in an apartment in Bushwick. Murphy plays Spencer, a man's man and instigator of all the play's tension. His ego is too big for the room and he likes to play immature little mind games. Forman's writing is quite funny. The funniest thing in this piece is Forman's juxtaposition of male chest-pounding with a Joni Mitchell playlist.
Following that is The Story of Little Sanchez and How We Lost Our Mother by Daniel Talbott. This one stars Siebers, O'Donoghue, Murphy, Ramadei, and Jorczak as couples and siblings enjoying a night together drinking and telling old stories. Talbott's writing is excellent here. There are layers upon layers of subtext and dialogue. Each character seems to be having a completely different evening. One is consumed with worry while another is reminiscing and so on. There are moments when Talbott has different conversations running at the same time and then the mood turns spooky. This piece is very well acted and the story is well structured.
Next we have The Sound in the Throat by Elizabeth Meriwether. Murphy and Siebers play a couple at bedtime. He has just realized that she knows about his infidelity. He is of course extremely apologetic, proclaiming that he is a bad person and that maybe he should "grow an evil moustache," but she says nothing until she begins to bark (and eventually act) like a dog (or a dingo in this case). Meriwether's writing is ironic and funny. This has to be the strangest couple fighting scene I've ever seen, but Meriwether brings it back to reality just in time. Murphy and Siebers are brilliant in this one.
The last piece is Mommy Says I'm Pretty on the Insides by Lucy Alibar. This one is the most bizarre of the evening and I really liked it. The story is mostly narrated by the youngest daughter of a hillbilly family that is beyond dysfunctional. She seems a bit touched but she always looks at life with a positive attitude and that makes for some great comedy. The characters created by the cast here are hilarious and Alibar's text is astute and insightful at times. This is a the perfect piece to end the evening.
Directors Portia Krieger and Moritz von Stuelpnagel provide each play with a clear focus. Their staging is natural and they command a fast pace in each piece. The set changes between each play are quick and unobtrusive. I also liked the video design that serves as a backdrop behind each play courtesy of Dustin O'Neill.
When I think back on the evening, Too Little Too Late doesn't seem like six different plays. There is a certain amount of cohesiveness in the writing and acting and directing that makes it feel like a single play. I think that's a sign of a great production.