By Sandi Durell
In the banking center of the world where money is the highest court in the neutral nation of Switzerland, we take on the role of voyeur watching regular peoples’ lives in all kinds of situations as they go about their business in a fashionable hotel. And it’s all so transparent as we witness the variety of human behavior and interactions through a giant pane of glass that covers the front of the stage to the hotel room. It’s especially interesting to see what some people are capable of doing when they’re alone, away from their own daily existence, feeling loose and free.
This current production, Zurich by Amelia Roper of Colt Coeur and New York Theatre Workshop, is a brainteaser.
In a series of scenes, many issues of human interaction are addressed albeit even those awkward and very private ones that we’d never hope anyone might be privy to watch. From the sexy next morning He and She (Paul Wesley and Juliana Canfield) – He can’t remember what went on he was so drunk, but loves singing ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ – And now, how can She get him out of the room he thinks is his; then there’s the stuffed toilet created by a Guy (Austin Smith) as the Maid (Carolyn Holding) is called to clean up the mess as he shamelessly details what went down , and yearning for a little extra caretaking as he hits on the Maid; the two bratty kids left alone (Samantha Cutler & Gregory Diaz IV) in the hotel room – the boy nervous and high strung – one naughty, annoying kid – licking the glass window for amusement as he complains about needing drugs. When he and his sister break the locks and go through their parents’ luggage they find more than they bargained for.
The last scene is the kicker when One and Two (Lynne Lipton and Matthew Stadelmann) are engaged in building a bomb. One is an old lady who lives in a senior home and Two the orderly. Their discussion centers around the question of killing Baby Hitler and how toxic masculinity is responsible for all the Hitlers in society. And so their plan is to blow up the hotel, the symbol of corruption. How does that one end?
From the emergence of these scenes, spiffily directed by Adrienne Campbell-Holt, we peek into worlds of corruption, violence, frightening reality that touches all of our lives in a place that remains neutral. The writing is humor-laden as we watch these individual vignettes of characters and relationships.
Other scenes include Renata Friedman as an annoying German mother spending all her time on the hotel phone trying to trace down her grandmother’s account at a bank during wartime (the bureaucrat on the other end of the line wondering which war), while her daughter, Sami Molly Bray, keeps occupied collecting miniature liquor bottles out of frig.
The scenic design by John McDermott is in perfect sync with the tales woven behind the glass, while bright lights flash marking scene changes (Grant Yeager) interspersed with loud shots and booms (Brendan Aanes) that shatter.
Fourth Street Theatre Next Door at New York Theatre Workshop, 79 East 4thStreet
1 hr 35 min. No intermission