Monday, December 6, 2010

Mortal Folly’s Macbeth is Bloody, Bold, and Resolute


Mortal Folly does it again with their sophomore production, a fairly faithful adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth. After the success of A Midsummer Night’s Dream earlier this year (one of the best productions I’ve ever seen of Midsummer), Mortal Folly chose to follow it up with one of Shakespeare’s darker dramas. Director Katherine Harte-DeCoux has “been thinking about Macbeth for years”, and it shows; although she says it wasn’t exactly the version she has envisioned in her head, this production has some stunning moments, and shows off the talents of both the director, the actors, and the creative team quite nicely.

It’s apparent that Ms. Harte-DeCoux has a keen understanding of the text; the actors seem well at ease with the language, exhibiting traits of good training, intelligent and visceral acting choices, and informed direction on their leader’s part. It’s easy to chalk off this play as an overdone melodrama about a weak-willed man pushed into making bad choices by an over-grasping wife, but the tweaks made in this adaptation bring moments to the surface that illuminate the story in a completely new way. Rather than rolling in his grave, I suspect Mr. Shakespeare would rather claw his way up to applaud the choices made here, choices that at last lend credence to Lady Macbeth’s descent into madness (a powerful performance by Liz Sklar), as well as cementing lesser known character relationships (Brandon Smith pulls off some amazingly understated acting as Macbeth’s lieutenant, Seyton). I was particularly impressed by the fact that Macbeth (Matthew Rini) did not come across as a character so blinded by ambition he allows himself to be manipulated by those around him (Lady M and the witches). Not even Fate could truly be blamed for this Macbeth’s actions, although his belief in Fate definitely has an effect on his downfall.

The rest of the ensemble are pros: Hannah Sloat, after catching my eye as Puck earlier this year, continues to amaze me with her total commitment and inhabitation of her characters (here she plays one of the witches, Macduff’s son, and Yound Seyward). Mark August as Macduff has beautiful moments onstage, particularly between himself and John Short as Malcolm. Bryant Martin as Ross shares a tender scene with Alyssa Borg as Lady Macduff, both again exhibiting some very subtle yet nuanced acting. Erik Cheski does double duty as King Duncan and King Seyward, doing an excellent job of distinguishing between the two men. Robert Lee Taylor has a good time with the Doctor, as does Melanie Stroh with her Gentlewoman part, delivering plenty of laughs during the Porter of Hellsgate scene. Joesy Nicole Housley is frightening as a murderer, together with the afore-mentioned Robert Taylor. Sam Eggers plays Fleance and Donalbain well, important roles each. Rounding out the cast is David Ellis as Banquo, who gets to look good onstage both swinging his sword and shaking his gory locks.

The play particularly shines in the action sequences, choreographed by fight director Nathan DeCoux. As the chosen tagline for this production states, “Blood will have Blood,” and once it starts flowing it doesn’t cease till the bloody climax. Both the martial style and the weapons and armor were all created by Mr. DeCoux, setting the action firmly in a pseudo-fantasy medieval world that is both exciting and supportive of the cinematic feel of this production.

Where the production had problems was in the technical delivery of the play. On opening night there were some awkward pauses accompanied by cursing from the tech booth. The lighting was fairly basic, with some odd moments that could easily have been mistakes rather than choices. While the music that accompanied some of the scenes was good, the levels were inconsistent, and the rest of the sound design suffered a bit. The overall feeling was that the technical resources available to the company weren’t able to match the aspirations of the company. As Macbeth says to Lennox in the aftermath of the King’s murder, “’Twas a rough night.” Ultimately, my feeling was that the technical kinks will work themselves out, allowing the brightness of the play to shine through.

Macbeth is a classic play, performed by a company that has a passion and a hunger for presenting classic work in a way that is exciting to contemporary audiences, and that excitement really shines through. This production is well worth attending, and shows great promise for a young company that will hopefully be with us for years to come.

Macbeth continues through December 19th at the Gene Frankel Theater, visit www.mortalfollytheatre.org for more info, showtimes and tickets.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Look Back In Anger, and Forgive



The Seeing Place Theater’s production of John Osborne’s Look Back In Anger is well worth the price of admission, offering a solid take on a twentieth-century classic. It is not without its flaws: the play gets off to a slow start, opening with an interminable moment that comes off as a bit of acting self-indulgence, as Jimmy Porter (Brandon Walker) and Cliff Lewis (Adam Reich) lounge about the stage reading their papers while Alison Porter (Anna Marie Sell) irons a poor shirt to tatters; the actors (or the director, Reesa Graham) haven’t quite learned the nuances of pace and timing that allow moments like this to linger effectively. Conversely, the final moment of the play, which is quite nice, is rushed into a sloppy curtain call and post-show announcement that takes away from the impact of the two hours preceding them.

But those flaws are slight, and easily forgiven.

Once the dialogue in the first scene starts, the play picks up an unceasing momentum that builds right up to the final moments of the play. Brandon Walker and Anna Marie Sell as Jimmy and Alison Porter have crafted a realistic and tension fraught relationship on-stage, and Adam Reich’s portrayal of best friend Cliff Lewis is flawless, down to his lilting Welsh accent. The appearance of professional stage-actress Helena Charles in scene two (played more charmingly than haughtily by Adrian Wyatt, who stepped into the role mere days before the performance I witnessed) ramps up the tension considerably. Rick Delaney is delightfully convincing as Alison’s father, the mild-mannered Colonel Redfern.

The one lost opportunity in this particular production is that of the economic-sociopolitical message. Osborne crafted this piece to bring attention to and explode the notions of class in an English society overburdened by those notions. It’s an idea that is more topical today in America than ever, with an ever growing divide between the rich and the poor; in Osborne’s play the character of Helena epitomizes this disparity, an actress who bridges the classes by having found some measure of success, now deigning to lower herself to the level of the struggling Porters (who survive off of Jimmy’s salary at a sweetshop). Possibly because she is just stepping into the role, Adrian Wyatt’s Helena lacks the haughty holier-than-thou class attitude that is at the root of Jimmy and Helena’s mutual loathing, and which ultimately fuels Helena’s actions towards the end of the play. In fact, the notions of class are largely ignored by everyone in this production, and Jimmy’s anger seems to be more wrapped up in his relationships with his family and the other characters than in any self-righteous indignation at the absurdity of society. He still gets his jabs in at the other characters, but those characters don’t seem to represent anything larger, as Osborne intended. Instead, this production treats everyone as merely human, which, while a refreshing attitude, dilutes the stronger intention and meaning of the play.

I’ve now gotten a chance to see a solid season of this spunky young companies shows, and my feeling is that if they stay at it, and with the help of a good dramaturg, they can become a theatrical force. Choosing plays with a certain pedigree, notably for challenging acting material that tends to garner praise for the actor’s abilities if it is done well, Seeing Place focuses its energy on the craft of acting over production value. This is probably because Artistic Director Brandon Walker and Managing Director Lillian Wright are themselves actors above and beyond anything else, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s also not to say that the production values are terrible in a Seeing Place show. The costumes, lights, sound and sets in every piece I’ve seen may not win awards, but they are more than up to the task of supporting the actors in their goal to present the stories as truthfully as possible.

As with the other Seeing Place shows I’ve seen, I recommend Look Back In Anger as a chance to catch a classic play performed with gusto by a talented ensemble of energetic young performers. These first-season productions are the building blocks for a foundation that will only make the members of the Seeing Place stronger with each successive production, and I’m excited to have been there at the beginning.

Look Back In Anger continues through October 30th, 2010, at the ATA’s Sargent Theater. For tickets and more information, visit seeingplacetheater.com

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Submitted for your approval…The Pumpkin Pie Show: Amber Alert



Looking over the press quotes for Clay McLeod Chapman’s Pumpkin Pie Show (pumpkinpieshow.com/press-quotes) after seeing it last Thursday (Oct. 14th, 2010), I found myself agreeing with every last one of them. How something so brilliantly disturbing, so disturbingly creepy, and so creepily macabre has eluded my radar for the bizarrely weird surprises me. And by weird I don’t mean there are Satanic blood-letting rituals or fetishistic sex acts being performed in front of my eyes, or any of the other boring, mundane tenets that have become more and more prescribed over recent years to the horror genre. Oh no, my friend, this is pure storytelling at it’s spine-tingling finest.

The best way I can describe it is performance art that at its bloody, dripping heart revolves around story and character. Not a drop of real or pretend blood will stain the pure white vestments of the three performers over the course of the evening, but when all is said and done, you will exit the theater feeling a chill that seeps its way down into the darkest recesses of your soul, and the small hairs at the nape of your neck will take much soothing before they are convinced to lay down once more.

Together with his accomplices in crime, performers Hanna Cheek and Hannah Timmons, with sound and musical support from on-stage sound operator Wes Shippee (playing an original score by Radiotheatre), Clay and company transform themselves into characters so completely different, yet so hauntingly familiar that they could have been summoned from our own lives. Maybe they are the people we pass everyday on the street, or who come in to our bookstore every week on the pretext of buying a book just to say hello, or they could be that friendly waitress who serves us at our favorite restaurant. Whatever the case may be, the beauty of this presentation lies in how absolutely committed these solo performers are to transforming into these other human beings who have a story so powerful to tell, they will rip it out of their deepest innards just to get it out of their bodies and cast it into the dark void of the theater house. Just don’t mind that sticky stuff dripping onto the floor and pooling about your feet…

Run, don’t walk to The Pumpkin Pie Show: Amber Alert, continuing its run October 21st - 30th — Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights at 8 PM
at the Red Room, 85 East 4th Street (btn 2nd and 3rd Ave). 


Tickets are available at SmartTix: (212) 868-444
or online at: http://www.horsetrade.info/Season12/ThePumpkinPieShow.html

Tix $18 (general). $15 (students/seniors)
PAY-WHAT-YOU-CAN THURSDAYS. Special discount code through SmartTix — “amber” for $15 tix!


Visit www.pumpkinpieshow.com for more information.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Don't you just hate it when fan-boys start ranting?


Holy 1980’s pop culture references, Batman! HACK! an I.T. Spaghetti Western, part of the Too Soon Festival at The Brick Theater in Brooklyn, contained a veritable smorgasbord of adult childish fun. Did this play really quote Lawrence Lasker’s & Walter F. Parkes's 1983 classic video-game film War Games featuring Matthew Broderick and Ally Sheedy in its opening few minutes? And yes, Spaghetti Westerns certainly were around earlier, but by the late 1970’s-early 1980’s it was standard practice to include For A Fistful of Dollars or High Plains Drifter in the rotation on every local network’s Saturday Cinema, along with a good old kung-fu flick featuring the likes of Jackie Chan or Bruce Lee.

So darn it all if this show wasn’t a walk down geek memory lane. Crystal Skillman has managed to weave together so many references and in-jokes to those of us who grew up in the Star Wars generation (the one with Lando, not that poser Jar Jar) that it seems like a daunting task for me to find anything to dislike about this show.

I’ll spare you, gentle reader, the details of the story, as I wouldn’t want to give anything away, but suffice it to say that the actors are brilliant, from Joseph Mathers’ channeling of Mister Eastwood to Kate Kenney’s brilliant turn as… well, giving away who she plays would be a Crying Game… crying shame, I mean… I loved all these performers, and John Hurley’s direction was perfectly campy. I should also mention that the set and lights were designed by the extraordinary Ben Kato, but then I would be betraying my true fan-boy nature, as Kato is only one of the greatest designers living, sort of to lighting design what Neil Gaiman is to fantasy writing, or James Jean is to comic book cover art, or Tara McPherson to rock band posters.

I should also mention that this show was originally presented through the Vampire Cowboys Saturday Night Saloon Series. It seems these guys know a good thing when they see it, as they have asked Miss Skillman to craft another epic for them, and I for one can’t wait to see what they come up with. If it’s anything like their recent instant classic “Ninjas suck balls” presented by Clubbed Thumb last week, it will really be something to see.

I guess all this really begs the question: would this be an interesting and engaging piece of theater to someone who isn’t a part of that particular cross-section of society, those boys and girls who grew up rolling dice with more than six sides, or somehow managed to talk their parents out of the thirty bucks it took to buy the latest Atari 2600 video game cartridge (thirty bucks? Boy, the more things change the more they really stay the same…). The answer is: I don’t know, nor do I particularly care. This show was awesome and meaningful to me for the simple reason that it validated my entire childhood existence, where watching The Man With No Name was a valued, nay, treasured bonding time with my Pop, and Star Wars would always be the coolest thing ever.

So if the thought of watching a bunch of techno-geeks transform themselves into heroes, saving the girl, the company, and the Beanie Babies along the way as they battle with evil Apple store genius bar employees and renegade cyber-cowboys does nothing to get your blood pumping, then by all means do yourself and us a favor and stay the Hack home. But if you want action, adventure, romance, a rollicking good time, and more fun than a barrel full of monchichis, you will hate yourself if you miss this play! Honestly, I rarely walk out of a theater these days with a burning desire to go back in and see the same show, but this was one of those few occasions where I’m sorry I didn’t get a chance to see it earlier, so I could drag all my friends out to it. GO… SEE… IT!

For the rest of the Too Soon Festival schedule, as well as all the ticket info you can shake a lightsaber at, visit www.bricktheater.com

You'll also want to visit www.impetuoustheater.org for fun stuff. They're the blokes what helped bring you this little treasure!


If you don't want to be left Waiting for Lefty, go see this show!

Since The Seeing Place Theater’s attitude towards the importance of ensemble and the craft of the actor’s art closely resembles that of The Group Theatre of the 1930’s, it only makes sense that they tackle some of the same material. When I found out that Seeing Place was planning a production of Clifford Odet’s Waiting For Lefty I was thrilled. How often does the opportunity arise to see an example of one of the greatest American playwright's work produced by a company that takes their work as seriously as this one does, and delivers results that prove how effective that work is?

Happily the production delivers on Artistic Director Brandon Walker’s promise to “explore this world to the best of our abilities,” as he states in his program note. He is referring to the ability of a group of passionate people coming together to create something worthwhile with extremely limited resources, and in this case they can count it a success. The play itself is sometimes a little clunky, showing it’s age a tiny bit in the roughness around the edges and the occasionally plodding pace, but the ensemble doesn’t let these things get them down. They tackle the story with energy and zeal, using Odet’s words like surgical tools to get to the heart of dissatisfied workers struggling in economic hard times. It’s an American story while not being the story of America, that this is a country where We the People can create a better State, a society that takes care of its own, something that we struggled with in the 1930’s, and that we continue to struggle with to this day.

The story was inspired by an actual event, the Pittsburgh taxi driver’s strike of 1930; Odet chose to set his tale in a union hall in New York City, circa 1935. The actor’s portray the cab drivers and their families, most of whom have converged on this place in anticipation of a decision by the union members to go on strike. In order to start the meeting and decision-making process, they find themselves “waiting for Lefty”, the Union spokesman. In Lefty’s absence, the union Secretary, Harry Fatt (portrayed chillingly by Tyler Moss), serves as a sort of anti-agitator, doing his best to convince everyone to just calm down and get back to work. The fact that he is backed up by an armed gunman does little to ease the tension of the situation. As the meeting unfolds, the various participants begin “flashing back” through a series of vignettes, to tell their particular stories of how they got to this moment. By the time the episodes have played out, the meeting participants make their decision, with a little help from an impassioned speech delivered by a man named Agate Kellor (David Arthur Bachrach) and the arrival of Lefty himself (the rarely seen Joseph Mancuso).

The ensemble does its job well, delivering solid performances all around. I was a little puzzled by the decision to cross-cast a particular role, which proved distracting while the actress was attempting to convince everyone that she and another man were brothers, but she did the best she could given the circumstances. In all other respects the directing of the show, the feel of the world created, were all authentic and genuine. In particular, the design of the show, credited to Lillian Wright, went a long way towards tying everything together.

This is a company to watch. Young, enthusiastic, these are talented men and women at the start of their trajectory, and if they can persevere for a little while yet, they will hit their stride and start producing work that is truly awe-inspiring. In the meantime, it’s exciting to see them lay the groundwork for this future through their dilligence and attention to detail.

The ensemble includes Joseph Mancuso as Lefty Costello, Tyler Moss as Harry Fatt, Greg Phelps as Grimes, Christopher Bischoff as Joe Mitchell, Steven Beckingham as Miller, John Gassale as Fayette, Brandon Walker as Sid Stein, Nick Velkov as Tom Clayton, Margret Avery as Clancy, Dothan Negrin as Phillips, Ned Lynch as Mr. Grady, Adam Rich as Dr. Benjamin, David Arthur Bachrach as Agate Keller, Jon Dalin as Reilly, Anna Marie Sell as Edna Mitchell, Norah Elise Johnson as Florrie, Jamie Watson as Irv, Bonnie Singer as the stenographer, and John Greenleaf as Dr. Barnes. The production was directed by Reesa Graham and Brandon Walker. Fights were choreographed by Steven Beckingham. The Designer was Lillian Wright.

The show runs through June 26, 2010, at the ATA Sargent Theater, 314 West 54th Street, 4th Floor. For tickets, visit www.brownpapertickets.com or call 1-800-838-3006, and be sure to visit www.seeingplacetheater.com.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Flux finds hidden treasure in attic of Jacob's House!

One of the most inspiring qualities of a true theater ensemble is that through familiarity with each other’s abilities, strengths, and weaknesses, there is a potential: the potential to craft a superior product, to hew it from the rough material of imagination, work and shape it with the blood, sweat, & tears of the rehearsal hall, and finally plunge it into the ice-cold and often passionless waters of the technical rehearsal, before displaying the end product in front of a public assembly. Flux Theater Ensemble recognizes this quality of potential and embraces it. Even under adverse and fearful circumstances, this company manages to come together to continually produce some of the most compelling and passionate work on the New York stage today. Their latest offering, Jacob’s House, penned by Artistic Director August Schulenburg and directed by Kelly O’Donnell, continues this tradition, almost daring audience members at times to sit up and take note.

The story of this new play’s creation has been oft repeated, and I’ll spare you the whole thing here. Suffice it to say that, on learning that the company could not procure rights to Archibald MacLeish’s J.B. (a modern day retelling of the story of Job), Flux’s Schulenburg swallowed his fear and decided to move full-speed ahead with an as-of-then unwritten script and production; the theater had been booked, actors cast, designs discussed, but now they needed a play. So Schulenburg penned his first draft over the course of a weekend. Fortunately, he had worked with many of the cast for years and was able to speak to their strengths while downplaying their weaknesses. The designs were kept intact or modified to suit the new work, and thus, a play was born.

The story itself is fairly simple, a modern retelling of Jacob wrestling the Angel, and knowing this I was struck on entering the space at how it managed to evoke a modern-day wrestling ring while looking nothing at all like one. It is a gorgeous set, by the way, designed by Flux’s Production Manager, Jason Paradine, who recreated with meticulous detail a dusty attic filled with the detritus of one man’s incredibly long-lived life. But yes, that clear space in the center of the stage holds the promise of action, and there is plenty of it in this play, particularly close to the end.

But while the story idea is simple, the execution of the retelling is delightfully (if sometimes frustratingly) complicated, encompassing many themes revolving around family, loss, love, change, and what it means to be an American in this day and age. One of the sometimes frustrating storytelling techniques, for example, is having multiple actors play the same role, while another actor retains his given role; there is a reason for this, but it is a disorienting device that can leave one’s brain scrambling to catch up. I must confess, I spent hours after viewing the show thinking about these characters and how they were portrayed, and for me one of the weaker points in the play is that many of these “doubled” characters don’t have enough time to establish themselves in the minds and hearts of the audience.

Regardless of any shortcomings in the script (which again was written and polished in the space of barely two months), the acting company itself is impressive. This is a company where the core members are comfortable enough with each other to really take risks, pushing themselves and each other to attain greater performances, while enough new blood is brought in to each production to avoid the pitfall of constantly seeing the same faces at every show. The acting in this company tends to keep getting better with each successive production, and that’s not a bad trait to have. Standout performances in the opening night production included Zack Calhoon as Joe and Bianca LaVerne Jones in a variety of roles. Mr. Calhoon exhibited a range and ability that qualifies him for many a leading man role, while Jones’s nuanced performance (especially as Young Dinah) brought a tear to my eye. Johnna Adams delivered the funniest performance of the evening as Young Tamar (possibly the funniest performance I’ve ever seen involving a toilet scrubbing brush). And Isaiah Tanenbaum frankly surprised me in his role as the Lawyer/Messenger; Isaiah has consistently delivered solid, well-thought out performances, but in this one he goes above and beyond, inhabiting the skin of his character to an almost frightening extent, truly a joy to watch.

While the gorgeous set was the most in-your-face of the design elements, the lighting design by Kia Rogers served its purpose well, bringing to life the interior of a dusty old attic in the nighttime to great effect, with some wonderfully subtle moments woven throughout. The sound design by Elizabeth Rhodes was at once both intriguing and frustrating: the sounds really worked to set the mood and punctuate the play, but the levels often seemed either too loud or too soft, which distracted me from what was going on; hopefully this was tinkered with on subsequent nights.

As far as direction goes, Kelly O’Donnell was a great match for this production. She took a sometimes-complicated text and staged it in a way that was both deceptively simple and yet slyly inventive at the same time. The almost-immersion of the audience helped to bridge the divides of both time and space, cleverly bringing us a critical step closer to understanding and empathy with these characters. O’Donnel is clearly a director to watch.

As in all Flux Theater Ensemble productions, there is a whole lotta love in Jacob’s House. When that love is combined with the careful craft and growing talent of this remarkable company, the end result is well worth experiencing.

Jacob's House runs at The Access Theater Gallery thru May 22, 2010. For tickets or more info, visit www.fluxtheatre.org.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Polybe + Seats: Promises Made + Kept

A Thousand Thousand Slimy Things, the latest production by Polybe + Seats, playing thru May 9th at the Red Hook Waterfront Museum & Show Barge, promises a lot of things. A lot of slimy things, for example. Or this one: “an Aquatic Spectacular of Conservation & Change.” The graphic on the postcard seems to promise Mermaids (at least one) and slightly frightening underwater dwellers. And lots and lots of trash. Finally, (just from the postcard) it promises to deliver a bunch of theatrical moments created by a bunch of artists under the watchful gaze of one Jessica Brater, visionary and director. Oh, yes, did I mention Mermaids?

The press release goes on to add that, along with the Mermaids (the Weeki Wachee Mermaids, to be exact), the text is comprised of snatches of interviews and found text, along with pieces of nautical literature stemming from Herman Melville’s Moby Dick to Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (where the show gets it’s name) to Henrik Ibsen’s Lady of the Sea (there were other nods to Ibsen elsewhere in the piece, not the least of which was the image of the town being up in arms about a natural spring, conjuring images of Ibsen’s Enemy of the People). These snatches of words are credited to the cast, with Katya Schapiro being given the honor of the title playwright.

Happily, none of the above is false advertising. Polybe + Seats delivers on all these promises, creating a theatrical event that is friendly and intelligent, thought-provoking and satisfying, smart while not being overly preachy. And those Mermaids! My one complaint is that, in an effort to incorporate so many words, the show stretched on for a wee bit too long. Almost two hours without an intermission is getting harder and harder to pull off in these days of tweeting and 120 character status updates; to add to the seeming length, the ocean breezes sweep through the theater (it being a barge, after all), chilling the audience to the bone. Bring layers of clothing and maybe blankets (although these are provided), and make sure you are well fed (you can purchase baked treats there), with maybe a thermos of coffee to keep the chill off.

Although the show could have used a heavier hand in the editing, the imagery and artistry of the talented cast and crew make it well worth sitting through the slower parts. The opening and ending of the show are visually stunning, the company making great use of trash and found objects in a wonderful example of “upcycling” (giving old or used items more value rather than less). Without spoiling much, there is a lot of plastic being put to a lot of different uses, and it doesn’t take a huge leap of imagination to picture for example the ever-shrinking iceberg occupied by John, played charmingly by Ari Vigoda.

The Mermaids were delightful creatures, at once human (or were they?) and yet not quite all there. Jenni Lerche as Lauryn had a particularly challenging role, one which could have been painful in the hands of a less-committed performer; Jenni managed to not only inspire sympathy for her own plight (a woman sick with what could arguably be considered a terminal disease under the right circumstances), she illustrated a relationship with Mother Nature that goes beyond what we mere mortals think of as love. Sarah Sakaan was totally believable as Robyn, the owner/operator of the Mermaid Park and Mayor of the nearby town (“population nine”), bringing a hard-nosed determination to the role that sometimes bordered on frightening. Carmel Amit as Marcy was absolutely charming, ably moving from awkward shyness to confident choreographer and back; her comic timing and remarkably fluent facial language was exquisite. Elaine O’Brien and Hilary Thomas also played Mermaids (along with Scientists, as did everyone in the cast at some point), each bringing a very strong sense of character through their physicality, vocal prowess and humor. Eugene Michael Santiago ably embodied Captain Horus, the salty sea-captain who smuggles garbage, messages in bottles, and strange sea-life from the Mermaid Park to the even stranger mass of Garbage adrift somewhere out to sea off the coast of Florida.

The overall experience is haunting and atmospheric at times, especially when the ocean swells gently rock the barge, reminding the audience that they truly are a part of something much bigger than themselves. In the same way, A Thousand Thousand Tiny Things proves ultimately much bigger as a whole than its individual components.

The show continues for the next two weekends, through May 9th, Friday thru Sunday. Please visit www.polybeandseats.org for tickets and more information.