by: Paulanne Simmons
Ever wonder what really goes on in those double decker tour buses? The Downtown Loop may provides some answers. Or maybe not.
This virtual tour of Manhattan, written by Ben Gassman and directed by Meghan Finn, and told with the aid of Jared Mezzocchi’s superb videography, takes the audience not only up and down busy city streets but also into the lives of the tour guide (Greg Carere) and the people who inhabit the city.
Thus at one point the guide is pointing out the Little Church Around The Corner, a refuge for generations of actors and prostitutes, or the Greenwich Village neighborhood where Bob Dylan and his girlfriend, Suze Rotolo, lived in a railroad flat during the 60s, and the next he’s having a tryst with one of his passengers after hours.
Outside the bus, Shimon (Robert Metz), a spry, 65-year-old of Israeli nationality and Moroccan birth, sells souvenirs from his shop and Faoud (Hakan Tolga Polat), a 50-year-old Egyptian hot dog vendor, peddles his wares, both in peaceful co-existence. The tour guide and a young trainee discuss their personal philosophies about their profession. Women from the guide’s past come back and haunt him.
The cast is so proficient it’s sometimes difficult to figure out whether the guide’s conversations are impromptu or planned. Is that Basque lady (Sarah Mollo-Christensen) part of the case or part of the audience?
The tour has a cosmic aspect too. There are meditations on New Year’s Eve and the nature of truth and reality. And what would a tour of New York City be without politics? The guide discusses real estate, healthcare and 9/11.
In reality, the audience never leaves 3LD Art and Technology Center. But when the show is over, it seems as if everyone has gone on a journey that gets into the soul of the city and the heart of mankind.
*Photos Todd Carroll
The Downtown Loop. Through November 16 at 3LD Art and Technology Center, 60 Greenwich Street, www.3ldnyc.org.