Two young women paint detailed portraits of their trials and tribulations in a rock and roll, electronic world
By Joel Benjamin
Nora Woolley and Kim Katzberg know their subject matter intimately. They write and perform in loving detail about the lives of young women (and men) and their trials and tribulations within very specific settings—the ragtag rock world, middle-class permissive homes, etc. At the intimate IRT theater space in the West Village, Hip written and performed by Nora Woolley, and Darkling written and performed by Kim Katzberg, were fascinating, if rough-edged portraits—full of threats, sex, love and adventures.
Hip, the shorter of the two monologues, begins with a mustachioed character sitting at the bar of a music club in the pre-yuppie Williamsburg writing what seems to be a train of thought diary while complaining to the bartender. This character, Wythe, is obsessed with the rock band the Strokes and believes that the group has stolen his songs. It’s not clear whether drugs or poverty have taken their toll but, driven by a need for money, he is forced to beg his rich but addled grandmother (who has her own issues) for some cash. Wythe, in his uncertain search for funds and shelter, also finds himself involved with egocentric parents and a tough real estate agent from some unidentifiable Slavic nation.
Wythe’s adventures in survival allow Ms. Woolley to paint a detailed portrait of a neighborhood and its inhabitants. She has a good eye and ear and, more importantly, a good sense of humor.
Ms. Katzberg’s Darkling comes off as more of a full blown play. With its dark humor and twisted cast of character, Darkling veers quickly between reality and fantasy with the clever use of videos. Ms. Katzberg’s main character is an orthodontic challenged adolescent named Trinity who is preoccupied with a quest to find her older sister Morgan who has been sent away to a harsh, tough love school camp in rural Utah. In Trinity’s mind, Morgan is a romantic figure. Ms. Katzberg plays Trinity, Morgan, their mother and other characters while enlisting the help of Maia Cruz Palileo to play supporting characters. Trinity is smart, just not very worldly. Her planned loss of virginity comes with some surprises and her road-trip to Utah becomes a surreal, druggy journey that isn’t quite as edifying as it should be. Darkling give Ms. Katzberg some exciting acting moments such as the afore-mentioned deflowering and one scene in which she acts both sisters going from one to the other with just a change in hair placement and posture.
The writing of both plays shows deep understanding of character and milieu. Their acting sometimes veered toward cartoonish, but the devotion to detail carried them through with the help of their director Raquel Cion who both allowed the actresses their freedom yet kept the pace up.
Mariclare Lawson provided videos, Matthew Fisher props, Kevin Reilly sound and Josh Iacovelli lights, all of which triumphed over off-off-Broadway’s well-known scarcity of resources.
Hip/Darkling – through January 12, 2014
154 Christopher St., Room 3B (between Washington and Greenwich Sts.)
New York, NY
Tickets: 800-838-3006 or www.brownpapertickets.com