Further details are here on Facebook. You can reserve tickets by emailing LoveLettersTickets@gmail.com ($10 each).
We look forward to seeing you there!
Started in 2002, Eastcheap Rep is a New York-based theater company, whose members include: Chris Chaberski, Peter Chenot, Sally Jackson, and Luke Rosen.
Sometimes when I hear the reason why someone committed a terrible crime I feel much less compelled by the story. It's the crimes that seemingly have no reason that really stir my sense of morality. It's a lot harder to judge someone when you don't know why they did something and you are forced to look at them as an average person...someone who could be your friend or someone just like you. And that is a truly disturbing thought when you know what they did. Neil LaBute is a master of stirring moral issues in a cauldron of everyday life and his comparatively raw 1999 play bash certainly stirs things up. I had never seen this play performed so I feel very fortunate to have my first performance of it be so brilliantly done.
bash is three short stories told in monologue. Each has at its center an immoral crime that the speaker is confessing for one reason or another. The kicker here is that the crimes are all based on actual crimes committed by real people. The first, Medea Redux, is about a young woman who seems to be confessing to the police. She tells her whole story from the very beginning all the way up to the spine-chilling moments just after her crime. The next story, Iphigenia in Orem, is about a family man who is talking to a stranger about his crime because he just has to get it off his chest. In this one he doesn't even admit to his crime at first but he eventually cops to it. The final story, A Gaggle of Saints, is told by an out-of-touch young couple from Massachusetts who come to New York for a party and leave with a story to tell—only they don't tell the same story.
LaBute's writing here is brilliant. His characters are rich and remorseless; deep and yet so single-minded. The monologues are textured with pain and love, innocence and hatred, humor and crisis. They are also very well-structured. The first one unfolds like a bizarre, if not forbidden, love story and climaxes with such naive self-righteousness. The second story twists and turns and folds in on itself until it finds a place where it can feel good about itself. The final one begins as two people telling the same story, but it soon diverges into the truth of what happened and layers upon layers of lies. What I really like about this play is that LaBute doesn't exploit these crimes—he doesn't sensationalize them—nor does he judge them, he simply tells these stories without forcing morality into them. He knows that his audience will bring their own morality and cast their judgments. Director Robert Knopf does a find job with his vision for this show. He sets a captivating pace and sets complementary emotions and thoughts next to one another to create an honest production of a challenging play.
The cast is fantastic. I was especially blown away by Chelsea Lagos in the first piece. She absolutely owns this monologue. Her performance is layered and nuanced. She finds moments for deep, deep reflection and bumps them into moments of utter indifference and even casual throwaway thoughts. Luke Rosen is just as impressive in the second and third pieces. As the family man he finds the everyman character that makes his crime so much more disturbing. I had trouble believing that he was really a parent but his honesty really got to me. In the final piece he transforms into a completely different person and really brings the intensity and the underlying confusion of the character to life.
David Mamet once said, and I paraphrase here, that "the audience is collectively a lot smarter than I am." It seems LaBute understands this. He doesn't judge his characters, he doesn't tell us why they do what they do, he knows that we'll impose all that ourselves. I would suggest that you check out this excellent production of bash and judge for yourself.
-by Richard Hinojosa
When do I grow up?
Review by Sarah Rulfs
The story of a young woman coming of age in an era marked by uncertainty and fluidity, Natalie is the arrestingly relevant, sharply written story of modern-day youth in America. Natalie (Sally Jackson) is a young woman whose story is told over nine years, from her graduation from college to her sister’s wedding and the subsequent moment of enlightenment which leaves her forgiving the past and imagining a brighter future. At its most basic, the play is about a little girl lost, who finds herself with the help of her best friend and a healthy dose of both humility and reality.
Natalie is a solid production, from the realistic script to the honest acting. Jackson gives a remarkably versatile performance which captures the subtle differences between a fresh college grad and a confused young adult. Her playful smile and airy persona teeter on the edge of annoying, but ultimately err on the side of loveable. Peter Chenot, who plays her best friend, does a superb job of keeping her in check without ever preaching; somehow his reprimands always come from a place of love. Special consideration should also be given to Luke Rosen, whose versatility in roles ranging from a “douchebag hipster” to a Craigslist house-hunter to Natalie’s brother is note-worthy. The three play incredibly well together, making the characters real and honest, and making the most of a fresh script.
It’s not a surprise that the show feels so real: the actors and the director cannot be a day over 30. Written by the company, it’s clear that their youth pervades the writing and makes it the chronicle of a true experience. Choppy at the beginning, the script morphs into a finely paced piece full of lush dialogue which gives sufficient back-story without becoming boring.
Given that the show is part of the Midtown International Theatre Festival, the set is simple but effective, with creative pieces like a couch/bed making the space alternately seem like a 20-something’s apartment and a hotel room. The intimacy of the small space mirrors the nakedness of the piece and makes the audience part of Natalie’s struggles. Costumes seem to come straight out of the cast’s closets, but are all the more effective because of it. Just over an hour, the show is equal parts tender and heartbreaking, but ultimately leaves the hope that this generation, like all those which preceded it, will find its way in an increasingly complicated world.