Saturday, March 26, 2016

Review: Bronx Beats and New Sneaks

With a backdrop of the Bronx fires of the 70’s comes a tale of hope and escape with a sick beat. Written by Donaldo Prescod, The 1's and 2's is a period piece that still rings true. Following the infamous “Bronx is Burning” era, Prescod's story watches the youthful denizens of the borough as they pass their time with music, love, and a little bit of danger.
Presented at The Tank, The 1's and 2's watches the rise of Trevor, a young but troubled Caucasian man, who yearns for a life of music, despite the abundance of obstacles standing in his way. Riddled with temptation and a colorful cast of personalities, Trevor leads a new life when opportunity manifests. With decade references dropped and on display, Prescod harkens back to a time still familiar. Prescod has taken the time to craft a clear character-driven play. The personalities he has imagined are interesting to watch. But where character thrives, the plot is a bit muddled. What began as an episodic theatrical series at #serials@theflea, The 1's and 2's may be maximized in musical beats but lacking in plot beats.  Prescod's play is filled with lots of character and content jammed into ninety minutes that feels as if there are missing moments that confuse some character journeys. There are aspects that get rushed, causing question of how we got from point a to point b. With so many characters introduced that play a significant part in the overall story, Prescod tries to give them their time to shine but in turn he sacrifices moments where Trevor's story needs to be. And it's a bummer because The 1's and 2's has strong potential. Perhaps Prescod needs to consider exploring the episodic format, this time on screen. No matter where it goes, pinpointing and eliminating the trite dialogue could be beneficial.
Energetic is the only word that captures the intensity on stage. This company was living. As Trevor, Craig MacArthur Dolezel was dynamic and spirited. Dolezel’s strong comedic skills played a big part in the character of Trevor. With with a Stifler-like laugh and a bit of a bad boy streak, Dolezel was a hero you wanted to watch succeed. Where Trevor had an edge to him, his perfect opposite cousin Kelly was endearing and an instant fan favorite character. And that’s likely do to the perfect performance from Brandon Flynn. Flynn was simply adorable as Kelly. While the love triangle felt a tad contrived, Terralon Walker as Wendy was at her best with Flynn’s Kelly. Walker gave Wendy a soft and sweet side that paired well in the romantic moments with Kelly. Falling into the trap of forced storylines, Nathalie Carvalho and David Pegram as Gladys and Carlos respectively did a fine job as friends and foes.
Director David Monteagudo allowed simplicity be the driving force of The 1’s and 2’s. He didn’t need anything else aside from crates, boom box, and colorful accessories to evoke location and time. He kept the energy high and the action exciting leaving you wanting more. The lighting by Patrick Mahaney was simple too but at times offering a general wash left you desiring a tad more theatricality and tightness. Monteagudo kept his staging fairly contained so when the stage was bright, the intensity of the piece faltered.
The 1’s and 2’s is a story that still rings true despite the specific time. Donaldo Prescod has shaped a world where the characters are the strongest aspect. Fleshing out the plot is the next step to bring The 1’s and 2’s to its full potential.