By Sandi Durell
If you’re a millennial, this will probably have some meaningful impact. Generation Y or Z can readily relate to and understand the temporary hookups and lack of commitment that have emerged via the era of confusion and technology that has changed one to one interactions and relationships, and the emotional process. Be that as it may, this play presented by New Light Theater Project, written by Owen Panettieri, seems to have something to say as we peek into David’s bedroom in a multi unit apartment building in Astoria where the walls are paper-thin and one doesn’t need a television for amusement. Just put your ear to the wall!
David (Denver Milord) who is in real estate, appears to be a nice guy who recently broke up with a girlfriend when he is accosted, while getting ready for sleep, via the fire escape by a neighbor, Natalia, or Nat (Bethany Geraghty) whom he briefly met at a tenant gathering during the 2006 blackout, the time in which this play takes place in Act I. This results in some long conversations as Nat quickly inserts herself into David’s life, asking a lot of questions, and suggests they build a fort out of sheets and play a card game, Spit, to wile away the time. Nat is a motor-mouth, and spits out her words at record speed, which could be slower and delivered with more emotion considering the topics she talks about, i.e., the murder of her mother. She’s also a recovering addict. We come to know a lot more about the two of them as they share personal information i.e. who they are, their past, families and tragedies, giving greater insight mainly into who Nat is. Alas, it took a blackout, to create an atmosphere where young folks could actually talk to each other, learn about and care about each other. Needless to say, this encounter results in a sexual liaison, what with all those sheets beckoning!! They are privy to some loud and violent fighting going on somewhere in the building, at which point Nat makes David (whom she calls Jerome) promise to call the police if he ever hears this again.
Skip two years ahead as Act II opens and David is in bed with a girl he picked up last night at a bar, Lydia (Bertha Leal). The amusement center is mainly focused on the back wall where they spend a lot of time, ears pressed to listen to a couple who are in domestic abuse, screaming violently at each other using as much profanity as one can imagine with things seemingly getting out of hand. In his conversations with Lydia, David tells her about some of his neighbors, including Nat, but omitting their sexual encounter. Recalling his promise to Nat back when, he decides to call the police and while he’s out of his apartment, Nat appears at the fire escape window asking to be let in. Lydia is spooked by Nat’s presence, but allows the somewhat drunken Nat into the apartment where she finds out more about who she is and the one-time encounter Nat had with David during the blackout. Lydia, upset by this, is readying to leave when David reappears with two policemen who have questions for Lydia about what she heard behind the wall.
Things get out of hand on more levels than just the domestic abusive couple when David discovers that Nat has also been taken into custody for assaulting one of the officers and feels compelled to run to her aid.
We find ourselves in anticipation throughout Act I waiting for something more that might be the reason why we want to sit through Act II. Sadly, we are disappointed in hoping that the conversations will actually be more meaningful.
So what have we discovered – – communication is still very much alive in spite of technology and there is caring, jealousy and lies. But commitment . . . not so much!
Director Anais Koivisto elicits some good performances but probably a dramaturg might be in order to consolidate a too-long production that doesn’t give enough of a payoff.
The two policemen are played by SJ Hannah and John-Peter Cruz.
Photos: Hunter Canning
Meaningful Conversation at the Gural Theatre at A.R.T./NY Theatres thru September 22 – 503 West 52 Street, NYC – 2 hrs. one intermission – www.art-newyork.org