Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Review: Basement Party!

What happens in the basement stays in the basement. That was the common theme in Lesser America’s newest compilation of shorts, Just Right Just Now. The hot young theater company brought together short plays written by Clare Barron, Eric Dufault, Anna Kerrigan, Lauren Morelli, Marco Ramirez, and Brian Watkins and threw them in the brilliantly transformed basement theater space at Theater for the New City. Perhaps these six pieces were dramaturgically more connected than merely taking place in a basement. Each play had an element of surprise, a secret, within whether it is the characters or the location itself.
From secret affairs to secret fetishes, from creepy crawlies to ghostly inhabitants, from damaged pasts to broken futures, the basement saw it all. It’s hard to pin point if there was a “best” play on the docket, but two standouts included Eric Dufault’s eerie All the Pretty Creatures in Heaven and Earth, about a basement mortician, a necrophiliac, and a corpse, and Brian Watkin’s ghost story of the haunted basement Study That House. Each added elements of suspense and mystery in different ways, showcasing directors Peter James Cook and Stella Powell-Jones respectively. But of all the plays, Chicken Butt by Clare Barron may have been the one that missed the mark set by the high standard of the night.
photo credit: Stacey Abeles
To showcase the six stellar playwrights, were six equally stellar actors, each shining at least once. Lauren Blumenfeld embodies the loveable quirkiness of now. Shayna Small's subtle empowerment was captivating. Alex Herrald was transformative in his drastically various roles. Jon Bass’s comic timing, in both dramatic and comedic situations, was spot on. Laura Ramadei’s naturalness radiates. Eric Clem is hypnotic in his storytelling.
The overall design was outstanding. For those who know the space will be amazed at the transformation Edward T. Morris gave to the theater. It looked as if Lesser America commandeered someone’s actual basement. Janie Bullard’s soundscape, both within the scenes and during transitions, worked seamlessly into the various worlds. Co lighting designers Eric Southern and Barbara Samuels pinpointed locations flawlessly, offering separation and variety.
In the end, Just Right Just Now should probably not be missed. Lesser America has knocked it out of the park.

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