By: Sandi Durell
This is a very contemporary telling of an old tale – bored math teacher makes advances to young 15 year old student resulting in an affair – but in the mix are attached appendages called cell phones. Without a doubt, the One Year Lease Theater Company has unearthed a unique manner of telling the story because those cell phones are now living characters with speaking lines and a perspective.
The play, written by Kevin Armento, and directed by Ianthe Demos (pool, no water) brings together a talented ensemble that includes Danny Bernardy, Red’s sad dad, Sarah Jane Casey, Red’s divorced lush of a Mama, Nick Flint, teacher’s live-in, non-working dull boyfriend, Christina Bennett Lind, as the bad, bored math teacher, and Ethan Slater as the innocent, lonely 15 year old Red – recent transfer student, not good at making friends. Each has a turn at also playing an android, a new kind of Greek chorus; one that sees all, records all, contributing and controlling the lives of its owners and everyone it touches. In fact, the story is told through the lens of the cell phones! Are there any secrets left?
The unconventional writing allows for actors to speak in tandem, finishing each other’s sentences, and jumping in on words together for emphasis. The pace is fast and physical as white cubes serve as representational set pieces, shifted by the actors, piling up here and there as seats and stairs, the ensemble moving briskly through their paces. The stage is a square with an open cutout box in the center from which items and actors appear and disappear, the stage surrounded by bars on three sides so that the players can climb in and out (set design James Hunting). The inventive lighting design is by Mike Riggs.
Next to the stage sits a musician on a swing, Estelle Bajou, playing mandolin, as she provides the original musical sequences that move the piece emotionally.
The play is amusing yet filled with serious overtones of illicit relationships, kids dealing with divorced parents and the price we all pay for being so connected and transparent in our daily lives in this high-tech world.
By the way, if you’re wondering from whence comes this show title, try this on for size:
Fictitious Aunt Sally of “Please excuse my dear Aunt Sally” (or PEMDAS: parentheses, exponents, multiplication, division, addition, subtraction) fame–the acronym intended to help students remember the order of operations.
Aunt Sally is alive and well through October 24th at 59e59 Theaters and runs approximately 80 minutes with no intermission.