23 July 2006

in context, the title actually makes perfect sense

i know i talk about a lot of plays here, tell you a lot of what i think. but right now i am telling you about what you need to see. orange lemon egg canary by rinne groff at ps 122. go. see it.

caught the 5pm show of this yesterday, and it is fantastic. that rinne groff kicks ass - i've got my whole shpiel about new plays needing to be more than recently-written, but to actually be New, and well, that's what rinne does. this is the third play i've seen of hers (previously ruby sunrise at the public and what then at clubbed thumb). this is definitely more in the what then vein - edgier structure (and content), and also a little problematic in structure, a little flawed around the end. but i would rather have an inventive, imaginative play that doesn't work perfectly at the end than a standard-issue drama that wraps itself up in a neat bow. (not that ruby sunrise was the latter. maybe it just felt neater & safer because of the venue and production? no, i do think the other two are more innovatively frayed.) like most writers i love for the way they play with form, rinne's language has that vibrance, the almost-not-reality feeling that you see in a lot of the best playwrights from brown (sarah ruhl, jordan harrison, jorge cortinas, adam bock). are we sure she didn't go there?

but before i was even taken in by the writing, actor-magician steve cuiffo (that's him with aubrey dollar) did his thing. (yes, the play is about magic. or magicians. among other things.) and to be fair, in his winning over the audience with his opening monologue, we can't really separate performance from writing. but anyway, he is fantastic. a very easy charisma, natural in the best way. something about him's a slightly smoother mix of bill murray and ron livingston. and for someone who's not an "actor," fantastically good. actually, he'd be a fantastically good actor for someone who is an "actor," too. i could sit and watch him for hours. he is very very very good. (okay, so i had a little crush on him. it's that charisma!) i wish he acted more. i may have to track down his magic act. the amazing russello. keep your ears open.

and he's not the only stand-out actor. (although he stood out the most, if that's something that can be said.) emily swallow, of the superhuman cheekbones, previously seen (by me) in period pieces (measure for pleasure & the king lear workshop, both at the public) still has her formal speechiness in the way she projects and lilts, which though it was brilliance for measure for pleasure, feels a little out of place here, but she is just so good and so good to watch. so what she'll never do sam sheppard. we'll live. but i bet she could do it anyway. and aubrey dollar, whom i don't remember from juvenalia by, i'm sure, no fault of her own, is great great great. (at first she looks about sixteen, which is a little weird since she's sleeping with the easily-mid-thirties great (yes, that's cuiffo's character's name).) also noticed mostly just at first, she felt a little blockingy - but that's as much her as the director, and against steve cuiffo's easy stage presence, normal acting could feel stagey. (her acting was great, though, just the why are you crossing upstage?)

so go see this. really. it's imperfect. it's in an abandoned school in the east village. (not that ps 122 is some random underground thing.) but it's wonderful - completely engaging, beautifully written, beautifully designed, imaginative, innovative, inspired. the play alone would be worth it. so would steve cuiffo. the whole thing is really, really great. and when you do see it, we should talk about the final magic trick, and what you thought was going on.

orange lemon egg canary closes july 30. wed-fri 8pm, sat 5pm, 9pm. (plus sunday july 30, 5pm.) $18. tickets. go!


Jeremy said...

Julia Stiles was at the peformance tonight that I saw, and Steve Cuiffo, while doing his little magic tricks ahead of the curtain schtick, totally played it off like he didn't know who she was. Asking her: What's your name? To which she replied, Julia, as if he didn't likely already know. Although then again, maybe he didn't, he must've done dozens and dozens of those pre-curtain tricks during this run.

Wil said...

Crap, this post really makes me want to see the show in question. And there's no way I can. Where are you Marty McFly when I need you? Unless the Libyans finally got you, I'm going to be very upset.