Friday, August 31, 2007

Review – Long Distance (The Ateh Theater Group and CollectiveP.A.S.T.@chashama)

Stage Buzz Review by Byrne Harrison

Having now seen two productions by the Ateh Theater Group, The Girl Detective and Long Distance, I can say that I see some common threads. Their productions are well-acted and directed. They are adapted from some very unusual short stories. And they are always strange. Subtly, bewilderingly, and wonderfully strange. They won’t be everyone’s thing, but if you see the world as slightly skewed and perplexing, they may be just what you’re looking for.

The world of Long Distance is certainly skewed and perplexing. Grounded in real life, but deliciously apart from it, the three short plays that make up the evening have a somewhat magical feel. Each deals with seemingly mundane event – a young woman expecting a visit from her parents while trying to get her boyfriend to leave (Visitors), a mother who doesn’t want a mammogram (Flush), and a young woman beginning her freshman year of college (Skin Care). But the stories go in directions that no audience could anticipate – urban legends come to life, fish mysteriously appear in toilets, and a girl slowly turns to dust from strange form of leprosy.

Of course, to tell much more than that would mar the beauty and surprise of the stories.

The cast of Long Distance is stellar. Elizabeth Neptune as Meredith, the young woman waiting for her parents, and Amy, the neurotic older sister of the college freshman, is particularly good. Playing off Neptune in Visitors, Jake Thomas as the boyfriend, Parrish, is a genially everyman, with a flair for subtle comedy. Also noteworthy are the engaging Kathryn Ekblad and Diana Lynn Drew in Flush and Jesse Paul Wilson in Skin Care.

Ably directed by Bridgette Dunlap and Alexis Grausz, Long Distance is a marvelous and unusual reminder of the magic that theatre can produce.

Adapted by Bridgette Dunlap from the stories of Judy Budnitz
Directed by Bridgette Dunlap and Alexis Grausz
Set Designer: Emily French
Lighting Design: Natalie Robin
Costume Designer: Amy VanMullekom
Sound Designer: Chris Rummel
Illustrator: Rusty Zimmerman
Sound Board Operator: Lenny Collado
Stage Manger/Assistant Director: Hannah Miller
Publicist: Katie Rosin, Kampfire Films PR

Featuring Diana Lynn Drew, Kathryn Ekblad, Charley Layton, Madeleine Maby, Sara Montgomery, Elizabeth Neptune, Hugh Scully, Jake Thomas and Jesse Wilson

Chashama 217
217 E. 42nd Street

Closes: September 1st