Lunch by Steven Berkoff
Directed by Richard Romagnoli
Evocative video background of an English seaside, amusement park in the distance, waves lapping (Mark Evancho). A single boardwalk lamp. A single bench. A good looking, tastefully dressed, middle aged woman (Jackie Sanders) sits quietly. Enter a man in a neat suit and hat with feather, carrying a briefcase (Bill Army) “Who’s she waiting for?” he asks himself intrigued, attracted. It’s the first of many reflections aloud. She’s aware, also sharing thoughts. “Turn around- no, that’s an invitation,” she tells herself. Both imagine what might occur. “Act quickly,” she thinks, restless. He’s dumbstruck.
When he finally musters the courage, “It’s a lovely day” is the outcome. He’s embarrassed by its lack of style (silent film expression is priceless), still conversation starts. They’re from different classes yet both articulate, well read. A poetic exchange about the sea ensues in the form of sexual metaphor. There’s heat but distance. He offers sandwiches and is refused; alludes to what seems a pedestrian profession- losing her interest, then details it with unexpected passion she finds appealing.
It’s a dance. Figuratively and then almost literally. They come together with palpable chemistry awash in lush, sometimes hostile words. She describes being married to someone who loves her in contrast to the inconsequential pick-up, yet grows angry and resentful in the telling. Sex is gorgeously implied. They react very differently.
Steven Berkoff writes for those who love language. It’s a pleasure to hear and see exchanged with both obvious and subliminal messages. His push-pull is imaginative, characters distinctly themselves. The play’s arc is captivating, adroit. Humor intermittently and unexpectedly appears like raisins in cereal, making things tastier.
Director Richard Romagnoli is masterfully creative, employing the small space with stylized visual and emotional variation that captivates. Choices of when the actors address us (internalize) or each other are deft; droll moments beautifully manifest.
Equally matched, Jackie Sanders and Bill Army on the one hand move like dancers, yet on the other never take us unrealistically out of the connective moment. She presents roiled and hungry, he, opportunistic and though somewhat reptilian in movement, ultimately kind.
A good piece well produced.
Hot Fudge and Here We Go by Caryl Churchill
Directed by Cheryl Faraone
The first of these plays opens with a raucous family argument about a financial grift played out through minor deposits and major withdrawals of money to and from British Building Societies- a form of banking with which most Americans will be entirely unfamiliar. Mom and pop were old fashioned thieves and can’t see the point of the complicated scheme until ease and profit win them over. Everyone is enthusiastic except Ruby (Tara Giordano) who has a new upscale man in her life and doesn’t want to be involved anymore. As she’s the most capable liar, the others are put out. This goes by very fast. It’s effective, but perhaps too fast to get the methodology of the grift.
We then see Ruby spend an evening with her new beau Colin (David Barlow) to whom she’s falsified everything in order to impress. Successive venue visits including his friends end alone at his apartment. An unexpected intruder exposes everything. Except for the unaccountable nature/behavior of the intruder (an effective Danielle Skraastad) the contrivance works. Both actors are able. Direction is good.
Also featuring: Gibson Grimm, Molly Dorion, Chris Marshall, Chris Marshall, Wynn McClenahan, Teddy Best
Here We Go starts at a funeral where all the mourners tell us when they’re going to die, moves on to the dead man (David Barlow) in limbo- lost, reviewing, pontificating, then ends with his being alive and extremely infirm, cared for by an aide (Victoria Keith) I can make no overall sense of it. Barlow is an excellent actor. Cheryl Faraone’s direction serves the play.
Also featuring: Chris Marshall, Bill Army, Danielle Skraastad, Jackie Sanders, Meili Huang, Annabelle Iredale, Maggie Connolly, Charlie Porto
Photos by Stan Barouh
Opening: Jackie Sanders and Bill Army
This production is in repertory with Reverse Transcription- Hauntings From Pandemics Past and Present
Information and tickets at PTP/NYC
PTP/NYC at The Atlantic Theater presents
Sex, Grift and Death:
Lunch by Steven Berkoff Directed by Richard Romagnoli
and Hot Fudge & Here We Go by Caryl Churchill Directed by Cheryl Faraone
Atlantic Theater Stage II 330 West 16th Street