By Marcina Zaccaria
A storm tests everyone. It tests relationships, personal boundaries, and most of all, endurance. In Hurricane Party by David Thigpen, the storm whips and winds, shaking the foundations of all of the relationships inside this flimsy wooden frame.
Six characters withstand anticipation, frailty, and regret. Macon’s friends enter and exit as the storm persists outside the small apartment that feels no larger than an average trailer. Macon refuses to turn away houseguests, including a grocery checker named Tabby, and a friend, Jade. With the storm, they bring their partying spirit. Over a raucous 90 minutes, their hedonism cannot be undone. What begins in a back bedroom progresses to the TV room. Over Tostitos, hard liquor, and other intoxicants, the six characters prohibit very little. Love gets turned around, and couples are challenged.
Behind every real person, there is a drama that sears before it bubbles to the surface. David Thigpen’s previous works include Hogtied and The Petrichor Trilogy. Originally from South Carolina, the playwright is intense in his treatment of this subject matter. Hurricane Party takes place in Conway, South Carolina. In a gritty, sometimes nasty world, the characters question their confidants.
Particularly truthful is Sayra Player, as Macon, the proud, tough talking South Carolina resident. Her performance is anchored, through the catastrophic stream of events. Player is also the Artistic Director of The Collective NY. Remaining cast includes Kevin Kane, Michael Abbott Jr.(In The Radiant City), Booker Garrett (Inside Amy Schumer), and Lacy Marie Meyer. In the world of the play, they experience anger, resentment, and frantic awareness. Refreshing are the monologues of Toni Lachelle Pollitt as Jade. In a moment before another storm, she says, “Early mornin’ water started creepin’ up underneath the door. Dark water. Got thick and heavy real quick. Ankles, knees, waist.” Jade’s monologue continues, “That’s when the eye came over. When that happens the sun comes out and it seems like it’s over, only for the worst of it is to come…”
Director Maria Dizzia succeeds in every aspect of staging. With diagonals and well-executed glances through the broad width of the Cherry Lane Studio, every movement is precise. Dizzia works within a clear frame, allowing the audience to step back to witness the drama. She inspires a perfect design team, bringing Miriam Nilofa Crowe’s lighting to get through the dark, contemporary costumes, plenty of 90s music, and extraordinarily well-timed projections by Gregory Casparian. Intentionality is everything for The Collective NY. Through the paces of the production, they have found a way to test the mighty strength of the actor and enduring presence of the character. Fight choreography by David Anzuelo is articulate. By the end of the play, Hurricane Party becomes not a piercing testament, but rather, a clique’s gradual decompensation that bursts into violence.
Hurricane Party is playing at the Cherry Lane Theatre Studio Stage, located at 38 Commerce Street, in a limited engagement until October 7. www.thecollective-ny.org