By Myra Chanin
The somewhat spruced up Clarion Theater has become the cultural Valhalla of Middle East Side aka Kips Bay. The Clarion is an intimate hundred seat space with audience member no further than six rows away from the stage. I recently raved about four Beautiful Soup Theater Collective productions, written and directed by Steven Carl McCasland, that were performed here in May.
Well, folks, until August 2nd, you’ll find a Wow! Wow! back-to-back, contemporary-as-can-be, artistic doubleheader at The Clarion — Howard Korder’s Boys’ Life and Boy Gets Girl by Rebecca Gilman, — produced by The Seeing Place Theater, another hitherto-unknown-to-me dramatic company. These are both thought-provoking plays with breathtaking performances and direction. Their featured players are so down-to-earth natural and realistic that I felt like a voyeur, secretly snooping into their lives.
The Seeing Place Theater is an actor-driven company built and managed by actors as a base for actors who want to grow in a creative, supportive artistic home. Their aim is to bring fully lived storytelling to the community – an aim in which they succeed in spades! They also make theater accessible for all New Yorkers by keeping ticket prices at a low and affordable $15! Founding Artistic Director Brandon Walker and Founding Managing Director Erin Cronican display their metal in both of the above productions, both as performers and directors, and that metal is pure platinum!
Brandon Walker, plays a minor role and directs a tough and hard-hitting version of Boy Gets Girl, which stars Erin Cronican in a touching, dazzling star performance about a non-love boat relationship in which a seemingly decent, lonely boy meets literary journalist girl and pursues girl even after girl clearly demonstrates, it ain’t personal, but she prefers working to dating anyone. Boy’s continuing pursuit of girl turns into stalking, and he “gets” girl by forcing her to change her life, her name, her domicile in order to elude him.
Boy’s Life, directed by Erin Cronican, dissects male narcissism and the protracted adolescence of three college buddies making their way in the big city – a vision that would make even the most girly-girly gal turn into a flesh-eating vampire lesbian. Brandon Walker plays Jack, the Leader of the Pack, as the most convincing irritating putz I’ve ever met in my life – and believe me, I’m old enough to have met more than a handful. How irritating? I had a really hard time stopping myself from leaping on stage and throttling him.
The Seeing Place productions really opened my ancient eyes as to what it’s like to be a young woman in this feminist age and it ain’t no picnic.
These productions feature quality writing and compelling performances anyone interested in first-rate theater shouldn’t miss. The Seeing Place Theater proves conclusively that America’s got talent and it ain’t at Radio City Music Hall. It’s such a joy to see such fascinating commentary on the passing parade performed with such thoughtful excellence. I’m really looking forward to seeing whatever The Seeing Place does next.
Photos: Russ Rowland