By Marcina Zaccaria
Produced by Jennifer Conley Darling and 2013 Caffe Cino Award Recipient terraNova Collective, “Animals Commit Suicide” is the story of Chance who embarks on a dangerous journey to find acceptance in a new community.
Playwright J. Julian Christopher aims to create an unflinching glimpse into gay subculture. From the clubs to the clinic, the playwright deals with the ways that the main characters seek to find love, belonging, and acceptance. Scene by scene, Chance, Ethan, and Sebastian find their way through an all too gritty New York City. From the street to the bakery, the characters are unrelenting in their desire to find what they are looking for.
Charles Andrew Callaghan is an astute lead performer. His sensitive and thoughtful portrayal of Chance considers love, danger, and betrayal. Callaghan is sometimes skeptical and sometimes defiant. He negotiates and bargains in his journey towards self-discovery. In scenes of quick dialogue and swift movement, Callaghan finds who he is. His relationships with Sebastian and Ethan are dramatic and sometimes troubling. Sandor Juan as Sebastian is tough and difficult. Both a lover and an adversary to Chance, he holds a fierce presence on the stage. Nic Grelli is strong and tender as Ethan.
Though some of the moments were quite raw, there are moments of hope and redemption. Director Jose Zayas leads a careful investigation of all of the issues surrounding Chance’s HIV. In challenging situations, the nature of truth and details of intimacy all play out on stage. The cast is carefully rehearsed. As they search for deep honesty in difficult situations, they experience a wide range of emotions. The last moment of the play was incredibly impressive. After appearing anxious, nervous, and enraged in earlier scenes, Callaghan, as Chance, is truly astonished. Continuing although having not met a resolve, he seeks a new beginning.
The spare set at the IRT Theater was designed by Jason Simms. Incredibly detailed costume design by Stephanie Levin includes spiked collars, faded jeans, and sneakers with bright, right shoe laces. Sound design by David Margolin Lawson blends street noise and quiet moments at the club.
terraNova Collective is in its 11th season and focuses on the fusion of art forms creating a new brand of theatrical storytelling. terraNOVA Collective is the recipient of the New York Innovative Theatre Caffe Cino Fellowship Award 2013. terraNova Rx is an extension of terraNOVA’s Groundbreakers Playwrights Group which is entering its 5th year. Traditionally, plays developed through Groundbreakers are showcased in the bi-annual New Play Series where staged readings are presented to a general and industry audience.
“Animals Commit Suicide” is running until December 15th at the IRT Theater at 154 Christopher Street. Tickets are available by calling 1-800-838-3006 or by visiting www.terraNOVACollective.org