Reviewed by Susan Hasho
Buckle your seat belts. The stated mission of The New Group is that of “promoting unique, challenging artists whose work deserves wider recognition.” And this play Intimacy (by Thomas Bradshaw) and the excellent production it has been given totally does this job.
Revolving around three multi-cultural families living in a neighborhood in a very current America, Intimacy reveals and depicts every character’s thoughts and words in almost clinical detail about sex, bathroom habits, racial prejudices, relationships, and more. And by the second act, we are watching the making of a neighborhood porno film. That Thomas Bradshaw’s script is skillful, ironic, brutally honest and funny at times makes the experience true to the point of confrontational. And because the actors are so totally committed to the realism demanded by the play, the experience could well be a litmus test of each audience member’s feelings about sex. I was uncomfortable in many places; my thoughts bounced around: “Am I a prude? Is this a matter of taste? Can I leave? Does this really talk about intimacy at all, or is it too graphic to be intimate?” The play and the production are effective.
The skill of Scott Elliott’s direction is that he has not shied away from any corner of this material, and has supported the actors to risk. The scenes cut back and forth cinematically. And almost from the start, it was very clear what house we were in, what family we were with and what the relationships were. Ellis achieved clarity in his use of choreographic flow.
This ensemble of actors (David Anzuelo, Austin Cauldwell, Ella Dershowitz, Laura Esterman, Daniel Gerroll, Déa Julien and Keith Randolph Smith) were fine tuned to each other and to the almost clinical, almost human style the play seems to demand.
The play begins with a tableau of all the characters onstage in their various houses and ends with the final scene where they are all gathered together on a bed. Whether you would say they are closer to each other by the end of this play than they were at the beginning depends, I think, on your own feelings about what you’ve watched. They seemed very happy to have gone through this experience together. I didn’t sense intimacy exactly, or love. It was more like relief.
Thru March 8th
www.thenewgroup.org (212) 244-3380 Theatre Row, West 42nd Street, NYC