Agnes – Hurricane Inside and Out

Charlie (John Edgar Barker) is on the spectrum. Particularly aware of and articulate about his condition, the character is not as isolated as many, but rather a high-IQ, functioning person in search of routes to normalcy. We hear the voices in his head, watch as he grows defensively upset under circumstances over which he has no control, and quickly understand an aversion to not being touched. Still, like babes and fools, out of his mouth comes a kind of savant comprehension.

Hiram Delgado, Mykal Monroe, Laura Ramedei

The hero’s younger sister, June (Laura Ramadei) has set herself up to look after him treating thirty-something Charlie as if he were a child. Also living in the crowded apartment (rents being what they are) are June’s girlfriend Elle (Mykal Monroe), a medical student about to move to Philadelphia (hopefully with June), and upbeat, caring pal Ronan (Hiram Delgado), apparently free and easy with women.

Hurricane Agnes has begun to stir up the city, so when June comes home and finds her brother has returned from a mysterious two week absence, she’s overjoyed, relieved, angry, and curious, suffocating him with grabby concern. Police and hospitals had been called. Charlie will tell her nothing. “I’m entitled to a private live!” he declares. We, however, are intermittently privy to his travel recordings of random people talking about meaningful moments in their lives.

Into this mix comes attractive, libertine Anna (Claire Siebers) who knew them all and was especially close to June years ago. It seems Ronan connected with her online and offered refuge from the storm thinking he might get lucky. Anna has other reasons for accepting. June is appalled. That’s the set-up. In the course of 100 minutes, connections are made and torn asunder leaving everyone at, excuse the pun, a new water level.

Claire Siebers and Laura Ramedei; Laura Ramadei and Mykal Monroe

In less capable hands, the play might’ve seem rushed or convoluted, but author Catya McMullen manages to make organic sense of what often looks like chaos. Nothing happens without an integrated set-up i.e., reason. Characters are well drawn (especially Charlie) with only Ronan a little sketchier. Dialogue feels natural. Tenderness is omnipresent. An event that catalyzes everything is deftly played. McMullen’s ending could be more clear, but this is a well written, well produced piece.

Leading the good company is John Edgar Barker whose Charlie never goes over the top even when flustered, frightened, or insistent. Reflexive gestures are splendid as is a frequent beat before response and consistent watchfulness. Barker’s face is a truly window on his character. He’s sympathetic, not pathetic.

Also excellent is Claire Siebers who creates the selfish, mercurial Anna with seductive, feline grace.

John Edgar Barker, Mykal Monroe, Hiram Delgado, Laura Ramadei

Director Jenna Worsham juggles motivation/justification and instincts with a sure hand. Activity/stage business is believably busy with deft parentheses where it slows down for higher impact. Except for a couple of easily fixed moments when one side of the parallel audience can’t see, the small area is well employed.

Scenic Designer Angelica Borrero has manifest a messy, low-income abode in which bedroom and living room are visible. It’s a bit generic, but works.

Costumes by Nicole Slavern look so natural it’s as if they walked in off the street. Daniel Melnick’s Sound Design is subtle and effective.

Photos by Hunter Canning/
Opening: John Edgar Barker

Agnes by Catya McMullen
Directed by Jenna Worsham
Through September 29, 2018
59E59 Theaters

About Alix Cohen (1720 Articles)
Alix Cohen is the recipient of ten New York Press Club Awards for work published on this venue. Her writing history began with poetry, segued into lyrics and took a commercial detour while holding executive positions in product development, merchandising, and design. A cultural sponge, she now turns her diverse personal and professional background to authoring pieces about culture/the arts with particular interest in artists/performers and entrepreneurs. Theater, music, art/design are lifelong areas of study and passion. She is a voting member of Drama Desk and Drama League. Alix’s professional experience in women’s fashion fuels writing in that area. Besides Woman Around Town, the journalist writes for Cabaret Scenes, Broadway World, TheaterLife, and Theater Pizzazz. Additional pieces have been published by The New York Post, The National Observer’s Playground Magazine, Pasadena Magazine, Times Square Chronicles, and ifashionnetwork. She lives in Manhattan. Of course.