Engagements

Engagaements Second Stage Uptown CAST JENNIFER KIM (Allison) attended NYU's Tisch School of the Arts at the Stella Adler Studio as well as London's Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. Film credits include: The Bourne Legacy, First Winter, We Need to Talk About Kevin, Confessions of a Shopaholic, The Unity of All Things, Wild Canaries, Intimate Semaphores, Obvious Child, Female Pervert, Lace Crater, and Newly Single. Television credits include recurring guest star roles on Amazon’s “Mozart in the Jungle” and TBS’ “Search Party,” and recurring roles on NBC’s “The Blacklist,” as well as roles on “Rescue Me,” “The Good Wife,” “666 Park Ave,” “You’re Whole,” and “Elementary.” Most recently, Jen made her off-Broadway debut in Branden Jacobs-Jenkins comedy-drama ‘Gloria’ at the Vineyard Theatre. OMAR MASKATI (Ryan). Off-Broadway: Indian Ink (Roundabout), Disgraced (Lincoln Center). Regional: Modern Terrorism (CATF). Television: recurring roles on “Better Call Saul” (AMC/ “Omar”) and “Tyrant” (FX/ “Marwan”); “The Good Wife”, "Believe", "Blue Bloods". Film: The Privates. Proud alumni of University of Pennsylvania Mask & Wig Club. ANA NOGUEIRA (Lauren). Off-Broadway: Mala Hierba (Second Stage Uptown), I'm Pretty F*cked Up (Clubbed Thumb),Knives and Other Sharp Objects (The Public/LAByrinth). National Tours: In The Heights. Television credits include “The Vampire Diaries,” “Blue Bloods,” and “The Michael J. Fox Show.” Ana is also a playwright whose work has been developed at Ensemble Studio Theatre, The Hangar, Barrington Stage Company and Colt Coeur. She is an alumni of the playwriting group Youngblood at EST and holds a BFA in theater from The Boston Conservatory, MICHAEL STAHL-DAVID (Mark) recently wrapped shooting on Terry George’s film, The Promise, and Rob Reiner’s upcoming bio-pic, LBJ, starring as Bobby Kennedy opposite Woody Harrelson. He also recently appeared in the independent film, In Your Eyes, produced by Joss Whedon, starring opposite Zoe Kazan. Stahl-David is best known for his starring role in Matt Reeves’ and JJ Abrams' worldwide hit, Cloverfield. Television: “Show Me A Hero,” “The Black Donnellys,” “My Generation,” “The Good Wife,” “New Girl,” “Person Of Interest,” and “Law & Order: Criminal Intent.” Theatre: Lost in Yonkers (Joseph Jefferson Award), Commons Of Pensacola (opposite Sarah Jessica Parker and Blythe Danner, MTC), The Overwhelming (Roundabout), and Buzzer (The Public). BROOKE WEISMAN (Catherine) is thrilled to be making her Off-Broadway debut!Favorite credits include Fly Guy and Other Stories, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, and Moby Dick. Thanks to everyone at Second Stage, Kimberly and the creative team; love and gratitude to her family and friends. A proud graduate of Northwestern University. CREATIVE TEAM LUCY TEITLER (Playwright) is a playwright and screenwriter. Her plays include Engagements, A Busy Time in All Our Lives, The Actress, and Advanced Module in Disappointment and Longing, Volume 4 (all workshopped at the Ensemble Studio Theater). In television, she is a staff writer on the award-winning USA series "Mr Robot," and also wrote for the pioneer web-to-TV show "quarterlife." Her plays has been produced at Barrington Stage Company and the Ensemble Studio Theater, where until recently she was a member of Youngblood. Her prose has been published in the New York Observer, New York Magazine (online), Trop, Szine, and VICE, where she is a Contributing Writer at Motherboard, the tech and science section. She holds a B.A. in English Literature from Yale University and an MFA in fiction from Boston University. KIMBERLY SENIOR (Director) New York: Disgraced (Broadway, American Theater Company and LCT3/Lincoln Center Theater). The Who & The What (LCT3). Chicago: Hedda Gabler, The Letters (Writers Theatre); 4000 Miles, The Whipping Man (Northlight Theatre); Want, The North Plan (Steppenwolf); After the Revolution and others (Next); Old Times and others (Strawdog), My Names Is Asher Lev and others (TimeLine Theatre), among others. Regional: The Who & The What (La Jolla Playhouse), Little Gem (City Theatre). A Few Good Menand others (Peninsula Players). 2013 finalist: SDCF Joe A. Callaway Award, Zelda Finchandler Award and TCG Alan Schneider Award. Artistic associate: TimeLine Theatre and Writers Theatre.

 

by: Michael Bracken

 

A sea of AstroTurf. That’s the first thing you notice at Engagements at the McGinn/Cazale Theatre. Part of the Second Stage Theatre Uptown series, Lucy Teitler’s comedy has a stage completely awash in glaringly green pretend grass, which even goes up the walls until it’s stopped by molding. You wonder why scenic designer Wilson Chin has chosen to create a playing space that’s so artificial. Maybe it’s because artifice reigns supreme in Engagements, so an AstroTurf lawn feels right at home.

That’s lawn as in lawn parties, or more precisely, engagement lawn parties, where the play begins, ends, and spends an awful lot of time in between. Lauren (Ana Nogueira), less at home than the fake verdure, starts things off with a drink in one hand and a microphone in the other. The mic serves as a proxy for a confessional.   She talks into it freely, knowing that the other characters can’t hear her, which is a good thing since the sins she confesses are theirs, not hers.

She first criticizes her best friend, Allison (Jennifer Kim), standing far upstage, with only her back visible. Lauren’s complaints about Allison are pretty benign: she’s too beautiful, does everything just too right, has perfect hair. Allison’s only real fault is talking to her own boyfriend at an engagement party, which, per Lauren, is downright rude.

 

Engagaements Second Stage Uptown CAST JENNIFER KIM (Allison) attended NYU's Tisch School of the Arts at the Stella Adler Studio as well as London's Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. Film credits include: The Bourne Legacy, First Winter, We Need to Talk About Kevin, Confessions of a Shopaholic, The Unity of All Things, Wild Canaries, Intimate Semaphores, Obvious Child, Female Pervert, Lace Crater, and Newly Single. Television credits include recurring guest star roles on Amazon’s “Mozart in the Jungle” and TBS’ “Search Party,” and recurring roles on NBC’s “The Blacklist,” as well as roles on “Rescue Me,” “The Good Wife,” “666 Park Ave,” “You’re Whole,” and “Elementary.” Most recently, Jen made her off-Broadway debut in Branden Jacobs-Jenkins comedy-drama ‘Gloria’ at the Vineyard Theatre. OMAR MASKATI (Ryan). Off-Broadway: Indian Ink (Roundabout), Disgraced (Lincoln Center). Regional: Modern Terrorism (CATF). Television: recurring roles on “Better Call Saul” (AMC/ “Omar”) and “Tyrant” (FX/ “Marwan”); “The Good Wife”, "Believe", "Blue Bloods". Film: The Privates. Proud alumni of University of Pennsylvania Mask & Wig Club. ANA NOGUEIRA (Lauren). Off-Broadway: Mala Hierba (Second Stage Uptown), I'm Pretty F*cked Up (Clubbed Thumb),Knives and Other Sharp Objects (The Public/LAByrinth). National Tours: In The Heights. Television credits include “The Vampire Diaries,” “Blue Bloods,” and “The Michael J. Fox Show.” Ana is also a playwright whose work has been developed at Ensemble Studio Theatre, The Hangar, Barrington Stage Company and Colt Coeur. She is an alumni of the playwriting group Youngblood at EST and holds a BFA in theater from The Boston Conservatory, MICHAEL STAHL-DAVID (Mark) recently wrapped shooting on Terry George’s film, The Promise, and Rob Reiner’s upcoming bio-pic, LBJ, starring as Bobby Kennedy opposite Woody Harrelson. He also recently appeared in the independent film, In Your Eyes, produced by Joss Whedon, starring opposite Zoe Kazan. Stahl-David is best known for his starring role in Matt Reeves’ and JJ Abrams' worldwide hit, Cloverfield. Television: “Show Me A Hero,” “The Black Donnellys,” “My Generation,” “The Good Wife,” “New Girl,” “Person Of Interest,” and “Law & Order: Criminal Intent.” Theatre: Lost in Yonkers (Joseph Jefferson Award), Commons Of Pensacola (opposite Sarah Jessica Parker and Blythe Danner, MTC), The Overwhelming (Roundabout), and Buzzer (The Public). BROOKE WEISMAN (Catherine) is thrilled to be making her Off-Broadway debut!Favorite credits include Fly Guy and Other Stories, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, and Moby Dick. Thanks to everyone at Second Stage, Kimberly and the creative team; love and gratitude to her family and friends. A proud graduate of Northwestern University. CREATIVE TEAM LUCY TEITLER (Playwright) is a playwright and screenwriter. Her plays include Engagements, A Busy Time in All Our Lives, The Actress, and Advanced Module in Disappointment and Longing, Volume 4 (all workshopped at the Ensemble Studio Theater). In television, she is a staff writer on the award-winning USA series "Mr Robot," and also wrote for the pioneer web-to-TV show "quarterlife." Her plays has been produced at Barrington Stage Company and the Ensemble Studio Theater, where until recently she was a member of Youngblood. Her prose has been published in the New York Observer, New York Magazine (online), Trop, Szine, and VICE, where she is a Contributing Writer at Motherboard, the tech and science section. She holds a B.A. in English Literature from Yale University and an MFA in fiction from Boston University. KIMBERLY SENIOR (Director) New York: Disgraced (Broadway, American Theater Company and LCT3/Lincoln Center Theater). The Who & The What (LCT3). Chicago: Hedda Gabler, The Letters (Writers Theatre); 4000 Miles, The Whipping Man (Northlight Theatre); Want, The North Plan (Steppenwolf); After the Revolution and others (Next); Old Times and others (Strawdog), My Names Is Asher Lev and others (TimeLine Theatre), among others. Regional: The Who & The What (La Jolla Playhouse), Little Gem (City Theatre). A Few Good Menand others (Peninsula Players). 2013 finalist: SDCF Joe A. Callaway Award, Zelda Finchandler Award and TCG Alan Schneider Award. Artistic associate: TimeLine Theatre and Writers Theatre.

Lauren’s view of Mark (Michael Stahl-David), Allison’s boyfriend, is in a different domain. He’s “so mediocre it’s almost ostentatious,” and when she finds herself alone with him, she tells him Allison’s too good for him. She throws out a couple of more barbs and then cynically suggests he’s going to ask to have sex with her right under the nose of his girlfriend and her best friend. He takes her up on her dare, and they’re soon going at it behind the gazebo.

Lauren says she’s always wanted him and calls him beautiful. Is she lying or was she lying earlier? It almost doesn’t matter. She creates whatever reality works for her at a given moment and probably doesn’t even know that’s what she’s doing. Mark does the same but with a higher level of self-awareness. He’s as phony as the phony grass and loves it.

 

Engagaements Second Stage Uptown CAST JENNIFER KIM (Allison) attended NYU's Tisch School of the Arts at the Stella Adler Studio as well as London's Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. Film credits include: The Bourne Legacy, First Winter, We Need to Talk About Kevin, Confessions of a Shopaholic, The Unity of All Things, Wild Canaries, Intimate Semaphores, Obvious Child, Female Pervert, Lace Crater, and Newly Single. Television credits include recurring guest star roles on Amazon’s “Mozart in the Jungle” and TBS’ “Search Party,” and recurring roles on NBC’s “The Blacklist,” as well as roles on “Rescue Me,” “The Good Wife,” “666 Park Ave,” “You’re Whole,” and “Elementary.” Most recently, Jen made her off-Broadway debut in Branden Jacobs-Jenkins comedy-drama ‘Gloria’ at the Vineyard Theatre. OMAR MASKATI (Ryan). Off-Broadway: Indian Ink (Roundabout), Disgraced (Lincoln Center). Regional: Modern Terrorism (CATF). Television: recurring roles on “Better Call Saul” (AMC/ “Omar”) and “Tyrant” (FX/ “Marwan”); “The Good Wife”, "Believe", "Blue Bloods". Film: The Privates. Proud alumni of University of Pennsylvania Mask & Wig Club. ANA NOGUEIRA (Lauren). Off-Broadway: Mala Hierba (Second Stage Uptown), I'm Pretty F*cked Up (Clubbed Thumb),Knives and Other Sharp Objects (The Public/LAByrinth). National Tours: In The Heights. Television credits include “The Vampire Diaries,” “Blue Bloods,” and “The Michael J. Fox Show.” Ana is also a playwright whose work has been developed at Ensemble Studio Theatre, The Hangar, Barrington Stage Company and Colt Coeur. She is an alumni of the playwriting group Youngblood at EST and holds a BFA in theater from The Boston Conservatory, MICHAEL STAHL-DAVID (Mark) recently wrapped shooting on Terry George’s film, The Promise, and Rob Reiner’s upcoming bio-pic, LBJ, starring as Bobby Kennedy opposite Woody Harrelson. He also recently appeared in the independent film, In Your Eyes, produced by Joss Whedon, starring opposite Zoe Kazan. Stahl-David is best known for his starring role in Matt Reeves’ and JJ Abrams' worldwide hit, Cloverfield. Television: “Show Me A Hero,” “The Black Donnellys,” “My Generation,” “The Good Wife,” “New Girl,” “Person Of Interest,” and “Law & Order: Criminal Intent.” Theatre: Lost in Yonkers (Joseph Jefferson Award), Commons Of Pensacola (opposite Sarah Jessica Parker and Blythe Danner, MTC), The Overwhelming (Roundabout), and Buzzer (The Public). BROOKE WEISMAN (Catherine) is thrilled to be making her Off-Broadway debut!Favorite credits include Fly Guy and Other Stories, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, and Moby Dick. Thanks to everyone at Second Stage, Kimberly and the creative team; love and gratitude to her family and friends. A proud graduate of Northwestern University. CREATIVE TEAM LUCY TEITLER (Playwright) is a playwright and screenwriter. Her plays include Engagements, A Busy Time in All Our Lives, The Actress, and Advanced Module in Disappointment and Longing, Volume 4 (all workshopped at the Ensemble Studio Theater). In television, she is a staff writer on the award-winning USA series "Mr Robot," and also wrote for the pioneer web-to-TV show "quarterlife." Her plays has been produced at Barrington Stage Company and the Ensemble Studio Theater, where until recently she was a member of Youngblood. Her prose has been published in the New York Observer, New York Magazine (online), Trop, Szine, and VICE, where she is a Contributing Writer at Motherboard, the tech and science section. She holds a B.A. in English Literature from Yale University and an MFA in fiction from Boston University. KIMBERLY SENIOR (Director) New York: Disgraced (Broadway, American Theater Company and LCT3/Lincoln Center Theater). The Who & The What (LCT3). Chicago: Hedda Gabler, The Letters (Writers Theatre); 4000 Miles, The Whipping Man (Northlight Theatre); Want, The North Plan (Steppenwolf); After the Revolution and others (Next); Old Times and others (Strawdog), My Names Is Asher Lev and others (TimeLine Theatre), among others. Regional: The Who & The What (La Jolla Playhouse), Little Gem (City Theatre). A Few Good Menand others (Peninsula Players). 2013 finalist: SDCF Joe A. Callaway Award, Zelda Finchandler Award and TCG Alan Schneider Award. Artistic associate: TimeLine Theatre and Writers Theatre.

 

For Lauren, Mark was a one-time fling, but he wants more. He sends Lauren anonymous gifts, like a vibrator. Enter Lauren’s houseguests, cousin Catherine (Brooke Weisman) and her boyfriend, Ryan (Omar Maskati). Ryan, at Lauren’s request, opens the next gift, “crotchless” red panties.

Nogueira makes Lauren likable, no mean feat given that Lauren never has a nice thing to say about anyone and lies on cue. Stahl-David’s Mark is less sympathetic, sporting the veneer of a nice guy, hiding the snake underneath. She lies as a defense mechanism; he lies with an agenda. Lauren lies even to herself, one reason it’s hard to know if she’s telling the truth. Nogueira explores the scared little girl underneath the high gloss sheen.

Playwright Teitler gives Lauren a lot of funny lines, and Nogueira delivers them with just the right amount of bravado and self-doubt. Teitler’s concept – a comedy that takes place almost entirely at engagement parties – is a clever one. Engagements cruises along at a clipper pace when it sticks to its basic premise, but when it tries to work in Ryan and Catherine it slows to a crawl.

They just don’t fit in. It’s like Forrest Gump in a Noel Coward play. The witty banter becomes a one-way street, making it a lot less witty. Director Kimberly Senior has not figured out how to attain equilibrium when Ryan and Catherine are onstage.

Jennifer Kim’s Allison is an excellent straight woman to Lauren and Mark. And Stahl-David’s Mark is charmingly devoid of substance. At its best, Engagements is outrageously funny, but as it progresses it shows less and less of its best.

 

Through August 20th at the McGinn/Cazale Theatre (2162 Broadway at 76th Street). 90 minutes, no intermission. www.2st.com

Photos: Joan Marcus

Share