Thursday, October 25, 2007

Review – The Blood Brothers Present . . . Pulp (The Blood Brothers and Nosedive Productions)

Stage Buzz review by Byrne Harrison

The Blood Brothers are back. After last year’s successful production, The Blood Brothers Present . . . An Evening of Grand Guignol Horror, the ghoulish Brothers Blood (Patrick Shearer and Pete Boisvert) have returned bringing panic, terror, wit and gore to a city that can’t seem to get enough of it. This year’s production, a perfect lead in for Halloween, features three short plays sandwiched between gory vignettes. Not everything in Pulp works, but the show features many more hits than misses.

The theme of this year’s production is ‘pulp,’ as in the pulp fiction of the ‘40s and ‘50s. Two of the three short plays hit this style dead on. The first, Best Served Cold by Mac Rogers, is a suspenseful tale of a woman’s revenge on the woman who stole her man. Set in a diner late at night, and narrated by the delightfully cold Patrick Shearer, Best Served Cold shows the confrontation between wronged Marybeth (Anna Kull) and Brianne (Jessi Gotta), the diner owner and woman who ran away with Nick (Marc Landers) and all Marybeth’s money. The play is tight, clever and suspenseful and is very deftly directed by Patrick Shearer and Pete Boisvert. The acting is outstanding, with particularly high marks going to Gotta and Kull.

The other play that hits the nail on the head is James Comtois’ Listening to Reason - a fun little play, full of malice and threat, but with a tidy surprise-ending. In this one, Marc Landers is back playing a serial killer who preys on young women. Hounded by the police and by Patrick Shearer, who again narrates and seems to be inside the killer’s head (one hesitates to call so malicious a voice ‘his conscience’), he takes shelter in the apartment of Miss Greene (Jessi Gotta). Unlike most of the women who venture onstage in a Blood Brothers play, Miss Greene lives. Comtois’ twist is excellent and brings to mind the old mysteries on ‘Alfred Hitchcock Presents.’ Jessi Gotta is, once again, particularly good, and Listening to Reason gives Marc Landers a chance to shine as the brutish killer.

The third play in Pulp is a disappointment. Dead Things Kill Nicely, by Qui Nguyen, ignores the pulp genre entirely and tries for comic horror, along the lines of the recent Evil Dead: The Musical. The story, a young girl (Gyda Arber) “saved” from zombies by crazy woman, Story (Stephanie Cox-William), and her creepy son, Rhyme (Pete Boisvert), is okay, and could actually have been fun. Unfortunately, it was hampered by forced dialogue spoken in accents that would have made the Monty Python boys wince. It was also the only one of the three main plays not using a narrator. Stylistically, this made it stick out. While this was my least favorite piece of the evening, it did feature a truly creepy turn by Pete Boisvert as the gravel-voiced Rhyme – so named because he speaks in nursery rhymes. He does such a marvelous job, Rhyme is guaranteed to make an appearance in your next nightmare.

Surrounding the three main plays are four vignettes that have less to do with Pulp and more to do with the Blood Brothers. These are the gory, creepy little tales to disgust and delight the audience. The first of these, Metaphor by James Comtois, features the entire Blood family – Shearer again, as the more literate of the Brothers, Boisvert, as the other brother, and Stephanie Cox-Williams as Gramma Blood. In this vignette, Shearer explains the similarities between theatre and surgery, using his brother as a handy visual aid. The second piece, a comic, and bloody magic show called Something Up His Sleeve, features Brian Silliman as the Magician, with Anna Kull as his hapless assistant. The two creepiest pieces follow. In the first, Bugs In My Skin, Michael Criscuolo plays a young man who comes to appreciate his little multi-legged insect friends to the point of wanting to turn himself into one. Not only is it freakishy disturbing, but it features some excellent directing by Stephanie Cox-Williams. The final vignette is a brutal piece about torture featuring Arber and Kull called What Color Is The Sun?

It is worth mentioning that the bloody special effects in The Blood Brothers Present . . . Pulp are more sophisticated than last year’s, and as such, are much more fun to watch. While there is no guarantee that Nosedive will continue this to bring back the Blood Brothers and their gory stories, if this is an indication of what they can do after only two years, I can only imagine what the Blood Brothers could be with a couple more years, and many more corpses, under their belts. The Blood Brothers Present . . . Pulp closes soon – don’t miss it.

Written by James Comtois, Mac Rogers, Pete Boisvert, Patrick Shearer, Qui Nguyen
Directed by Rebecca Comtois, Patrick Shearer, Pete Boisvert, Stephanie Cox-Williams, Matt Johnston
Production Manager: Stephanie Cox-Williams
Stage Manager: Jessica Lazar
Board Operator: Mike Caputo
Fight Choreographer: Qui Nguyen
Lighting Designer: Phil Shearer
Makeup Designer: Leslie Hughes
Sound Designer: Patrick Shearer
Original Music: Larry Lees
Press Agent: James Comtois
Producers: Pete Boisvert, Rebecca Comtois, Stephanie Cox-Williams, Patrick Shearer
Associate Producers: James Comtois, Marc Landers

Featuring Gyda Arber (Serena, Molly, First Victim, Croceus), Michael Criscuolo (Tired Driver, Man, Police Officer), Jessi Gotta (Brianne, Miss Greene), Anna Kull (Marybeth, The Assistant, Second Victim, Tormina), Marc Landers (Nick, Killer), Brian Silliman (Officer Clancy, The Magician, Brad, Mr. Tucker), Pete Boisvert (Brother Blood, Rhyme), Stephanie Cox-Williams (Gramma Blood, Story), Patrick Shearer (Brother Blood)

The 78th Street Theatre Lab
236 W. 78th Street, 2nd Floor

Through Saturday, October 27th

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Announcement - The Blood Brothers Present: Pulp

The Blood Brothers Present: Pulp


Gyda Arber, Michael Criscuolo, Jessi Gotta, Anna Kull, Marc Landers, Brian Silliman

Listening To Reason
by James Comtois
Directed by Matt Johnston

Dead Things Kill Nicely
by Qui Nguyen
Directed by Pete Boisvert & Patrick Shearer

Best Served Cold
by Mac Rogers
Directed by Pete Boisvert & Patrick Shearer

The 78th Street Theatre Lab
October 11-13, 18-20, 25-27, Thursday through Saturday, 8 p.m.

“For sheer playful fun, make this gory confection your Halloween treat.” - Time Out New York

“Sheer, merry sadism, sexual savagery, and witty humor.” - The Off-Off-Broadway Review

A deranged psycho killer, deaf to pleas for mercy, tries one last-ditch effort to dodge the cops through the reluctant help of one terrified hostage. Molly, a young teen looking for a quick snog in the woods, now has to cover a zombie hicky. And Brianne has to keep Marybeth from pulling the trigger for just eight more minutes, but learns that, when talking for one’s life, time has a way of slowing down.

This is The Blood Brothers Present: PULP, Nosedive Productions’ follow-up to last year’s Blood Brothers Present: An Evening of Grand Guignol Horror. James Comtois (The Adventures of Nervous-Boy), Qui Nguyen (Men of Steel, Living Dead in Denmark) and Mac Rogers (Universal Robots, Hail Satan), New York indie theatre scene’s hottest — and let’s face it, sickest — playwrights write three original works inspired by the pulp horror comics and short stories of the 1940s and ‘50s.

The Blood Brothers Present: PULP features graphic violence and strong sexual situations and is recommended for adults only.

The Blood Brothers Present will be performed at the 78th Street Theatre Lab (236 West 78th St. at Broadway) October 11-13, 18-20, 25-27 (Thursday through Saturday). All shows are at 8 p.m. and tickets are $18. Subway: 1 to 79th Street; A to 81st Street; or 1 2 or 3 to 72nd Street.

For tickets call 212-352-3101 or visit

Review – The Lady Swims Today (WBISI Productions)

Stage Buzz Review by Byrne Harrison

A backwater resort on the Chesapeake Bay. A shady businessman who promises quick, but not easy, money. A mysterious message, “The lady swims today.” All of these, combined with a handful of locals whose greed overwhelms their good sense and the women who threaten to ruin it all, are on display in H.G. Brown’s The Lady Swims Today at the TADA Theatre. This tight crime drama is a pleasure to watch.

The most striking feature of The Lady Swims Today is the most readily apparent, the marvelous set created by designer Joseph Spirito. It truly captures the feel of the bar of the down-on-its-luck Carney Hook Marina Motel and provides an excellent backdrop to showcase the locals: George (Gordon Silva), the bartender; Harley (Jack Rodgerson), a dockworker and wannabe piano player; and Mal (Rob Sheridan), a former contraband runner who is trying to make a respectable living running the motel with his wife, Beverly (Vivienne Leheny). George and Harley seem to fit the bar perfectly, a little worn and a bit seedy. Mal and Beverly fit in a little less; they’re the dressed up version of what the bar could be. There are also three outsiders at the motel: Joyce Stevens (Kate Udall), Beverly’s old friend, now a reporter; Alice (Kelli K. Barnett), Harley’s ‘dancer’ girlfriend; and the most out of his element, Eddie Hajazi (Robert Funaro), the midlevel hood who is looking for some payback. This payback involves piracy and could net over $2 million. But for it to work, he needs help.

The Lady Swims Today is a fun ride, slowly unfolding, unveiling complication after complication as it builds towards its conclusion. Director Stephen Sunderlin does an excellent job with the pacing, maintaining a coiled tension in most of the scenes that drives the action to a number of explosive moments, the best of which feature Eddie and Joyce, two characters who are much more alike than they’d care to admit.

The acting in this production is strong, though certain actors shine. Vivienne Leheny, in addition to being an excellent as Beverly, has a remarkable voice, clear as crystal whether in a whisper or a shout. Rob Sheridan’s Mal is a character clearly at war with himself. For his wife’s sake, he wants to keep clean, but every new day brings frustrations and setbacks. He clearly wants a moment of his old life back, even though that life also repulses him. Robert Funaro as Eddie is slick and in charge. Funaro occasionally comes across a little stiff, though he is excellent in the more dramatic moments or when interacting with the female characters. It’s clear that Eddie is a lady’s man; Funaro seems to have a great deal of fun playing with this aspect of his character.

With an engrossing story, excellent acting, and deft direction, The Lady Swims Today is an impressive thriller that is sure to entertain.

Written by H.G. Brown
Directed by Stephen Sunderlin
Scene Design: Joseph Spirito
Costume Design: Vanessa Leuck
Lighting Design: Brett Maughan
Stage Manager: Joanna Leigh Jacobsen
Assistant Stage Manager: Connie Baker
Assistant Director: Avriel Hillman
Fight Choreographer: Jim Bender
General Manager: Tom Smedes
Press Representative: Jim Randolph
Photographer: Roger Gaess
Web & Print Designer: Keith Paul

Featuring Gordon Silva (George Santos), Robert Funaro (Eddie Hajazi), Jack Rodgerson (Harley Davis), Rob Sheridan (Mal Peters), Vivienne Leheny (Beverly Sharon Peters), Kate Udall (Joyce Stevens), Kelli K. Barnett (Alice Bender)

TADA Theatre
15 W. 28th Street

Through Sunday October 21st.

For tickets visit or call 212-352-3101

Friday, October 5, 2007

Reading - Come Again (WorkShop Theater Company)

On Sunday October 7 the WorkShop Theater Company’s “Sundays at Six” series presents a free reading of

a comedy in five sexual acts
by Rich Orloff

four wonderful actors
Richard Kent Green*, Gary Mink*, Tracy Newirth*, Kari Swenson Riely
in five short plays set in one hotel room about five different combos:
- a married couple with conflicting scoring methods
- a threesome with a guy who’s still learning where to put what
- a lesbian couple who decide to strip away pretenses
- two swinging couples sharing one check
- a woman alone who gets tied up in a game of dare

stage directions read by Tanya Marten*
Note: These plays contain mature themes and immature characters
*members, Actors Equity
Performance times and dates are subject to change.
Please call (212) 695-4173 to confirm.

Reading - The Book of Ted (WorkShop Theater Company)

The WorkShop Theater Company presents a free reading.

1960. Late Summer. Ted and Mary have a great marriage, great friends and a great life. If only it weren’t for this pesky hurricane…Another beautiful day in the heart of the fabulous Florida Keys!

by David Schmitt

C. K. Allen Frank Biancamano* Ken Glickfeld* Milton James*Joshua Knapp Cam Kornman* Jim Nugent* Linda Segal*

*Member, Actors’ Equity Association

directed by Scott C. Sickles

Thursday thru Saturday
October 11 thru 13 at 8:00 p.m.

Performance times and dates are subject to change.
Please call (212) 695-4173 to confirm.