Woman Around Town’s Editor Charlene Giannetti and writers for the website talk with the women and men making news in New York, Washington, D.C., and other cities around the world. Thanks to Ian Herman for his wonderful piano introduction.

Leta Tremblay

Porcupine Choose One: Pain or Warmth


Cassandra has dreams of porcupines. It’s bitter cold. The rodents huddle together for warmth, prick/hurt one another, separate, grow cold again, and huddle. So it is with many of us.


Jessica Kuhne and Jean Brassard; Sofi Lambert

Noami (Jessica Kuhne) and Theodore (Jean Brassard) are a couple. After admiration, the thing she desperately wants is a baby. Her bored partner makes it clear he’s more concerned with what color he’ll die his hair. One gets the feeling neither has friends.

It’s Cassandra’s birthday. (Sofi Lambert) Celebrating so thoroughly she’s fraught, the young woman decorates, bakes a cake (resembling a porcupine) in a magic oven, sings, squeaks, squeals, dances, and chirps to party guests who aren’t there. Every word and move is wildly exaggerated. Photocopied invitations are disseminated to most everyone she meets. Will anyone come to her party?


Sofi Lambert and Yeauxlanda Kay; Vincent D’Arbouze

The hugely pregnant Suzanne (Yeauxlanda Kay) is minding the counter at Phil’s  Corner Store. (She hasn’t had sex in 15 years. It’s immaculate, or in this case, surrealist conception.) To say the woman is bad tempered is to minimize her sour response to anyone in her path. Life stinks and, if prodded, she’ll tell you why.

Her brother Phil (Vincent D’Arbouze) is a bundle of ambulatory neuroses, the greatest insecurity stemming from a preadolescent rejection. He’s secretly in love with Cassandra. When a change of gravy at an habitual restaurant shakes one’s life, balance is precarious. Oh, Phil’s second profession is hairdresser.


Jessica Kuhne, Yeauxlanda Kay, Sofi Lambert

Suzanne’s unborn baby is passed from belly to belly by violent means, Theodore falls for Cassandra and is cruel to Noami,  Noami and Suzanne accidentally meet at Cassandra’s party which causes a change in both, Phil musters the courage to declare himself…Very little ends well. There’s a wounded duck (a great puppet by Jean Marie Keevins), odd employment of a ski mask, a great deal of French pop music, and a truly romantic, unique birthday gift.

Porcupine is kind of a kitchen sink piece. Every unedited idea the playwright had is tossed in the mix. As a result,  it’s a bit heavy handed in its quirkiness and over long. Still, the characters’ crossovers are telling and ultimate isolation is crystal clear.

Sofi Lambert and Jean Brassard

As Theodore, Jean Brassard must rise above dorky wigs (possibly intentional) and the vacillation of his director. The actor does create a markedly selfish beginning, a credibly smitten and disappointed center, and a defeated finish.

Between parentheses of over the top manic behavior, Jessica Kuhne gives us palpable fury and a later sea change.

Sofi Lambert’s theatrical skills are buried by direction.

Vincent D’Arbouze’s Philip is sweet and sympathetic, his anxiety realistic, depression weighing. In one passage, the actor appeals to audience members with empathetic success.

Yeauxlanda Kay is excellent throughout. She provides ballast, inhabits a solid character, and appears to think (as Suzanne) before she acts. An artist to watch.

Director Leta Tremblay has sculpted a Cassandra so abrasive and hysterical (not funny), it’s difficult to feel appropriate compassion. She also forces Noami into excessive expression where words and behavior would’ve been sufficient. These two tip the piece in a way that affects everything to the detriment of the writing. Nor can Tremblay decide whether to make Theodore innately callous or just fickle. Physical staging is effective.

This theater of the absurd piece spools out in vignettes. Three separate areas, defined by Lighting Designer Chelsie McPhilmy, present separate lives from which people “venture forth.” Loopy use of balloons, confetti and a metallic strip curtain work well in a friendly handmade way that suits the show – as does minimal furniture. Scenic Designer Angelica Borrero.

Photos by Audobon McKeown
Opening: Yeauxlanda Kay, Jean Brassard, Sofi Lambert, Vincent D’Arbouze, Jessica Kuhne

Porcupine by David Paquet
Translated by Maureen Labonte
Directed by Leta Tremblay
Through May 20, 2017
Actors Fund Art Center
160 Schermerhorn St. Brooklyn

Nursery Noir: The City That Cried Wolf


What do you get when you put nursery rhymes in the seedy back alleys and darkened docks of a noir yarn? You get something twisted and delicious, like The City That Cried Wolf, now running at 59E59 Theaters.

We all know the way it goes: Hardened gumshoe is hired by a jealous husband to follow a beautiful but dangerous dame, things go awry, people get hurt, the gumshoe finds himself falling deep in a mystery he never could have predicted. Only this time there’s a twist. That hardened gumshoe is one Jack B. Nimble, the guy who’s hired him to track his wife is Mayor Humpty Dumpty, the wife is one Bo Peep, and the rest of the characters are right out of rhymes from bedtime. It’s a tale chockablock with adult themes told in a way that could keep even the youngest among us giggling. Playwright Brooks Reeves has filled the script with ‘dad jokes’ and punny nods to the source materials, providing enough winks and nods to keep things interesting for cool kids of all ages.


Adam LaFaci and Rebecca Spiro

The cast of characters is huge. From the aforementioned cracked egg to a delightfully dark pair of gleeful coroners called Hansel and Gretel to a gang of feathered ruffians that trade in drugs and women, the titular city is a dark place and there’s something foul afoot. Or is that fowl? It seems like the city wolf population has been hard at work causing death and destruction, and Detective Nimble is caught in the middle of a situation that may not be what it seems.

There are six actors—Holly Chou, Michelle Concha, Dalton Davis, Adam La Faci, Rebecca Spiro, Gwen Sisco, and Dalles Wilie—covering a cast of dozens. La Faci sticks to Nimble throughout and Concha and Spiro spend the majority of their time as Mother Goose and Bo Peep, respectively, leaving all the rest for a merry and versatile band of high-energy players, all of whom do a fabulous job of creating personalities as distinct as they are diverse. And they are very diverse. We got blind mice, police grunts, wary wolves, and at least a dozen other denizens of shadowy Rhyme Town. It’s difficult to pick favorites because they’re all so good and are required to play such different characters, though Wilie certainly throws himself into his parts with impressive vigor.


Rebecca Spiro

There are timely undercurrents about racial—or, in this case, species—profiling, media obligations, terrorism, police brutality and more. It isn’t a new play, but it plays fresh in the greater context of current national and world events.

Directed by Leta Tremblay, The City That Cried Wolf is nearly two hours of dark mischief, though the time flies once you’re fully immersed in the story. Jazz fills the air. The scenery is simple but beautifully done, with glowing neon illuminating the name of each venue as it’s introduced and enough grit and grime to make it feel fully lived-in. And you will want to live there, even after you get to whodunit. Get in while you can.

The City That Cried Wolf is playing at 59E59 Theaters through December 11, 2016.