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.

Talene Monahon

Alligator – Powerful, Original, Daring!


The young cast and creative team of New Georges’s production (the debut of Hilary Bettis’s Alligator) creates some of most unnerving, operatic theater I’ve seen this year. Prepare for deception, desperation, primal instincts, wrenching love, graphic violence, astonishing psychological insight and vivid articulation. Add sex, a gun, bloodied animals and relentless surprise – accompanied by trenchant music. Brava.

Whomp! Assailed by electric bass, keyboard and drums, we motley tourists are seduced and galvanized by an evangelistic bally (pitch) Weeeeelcome, weeeeelcome, weeeeelcome ya’ll … I hope ya’ll are ready to be amazed here today. Are ya ready? I said are ya ready? Oh now folks, I can’t hear ya!…Prodded, the audience yells back affirmatively.

If the Florida Everglades had a wrong side of the tracks, we’d be there. Ty (Dakota Granados) has ripped arms, ripped jeans, and ripped boots. He wrestles alligators. ANYTHING at any moment could go wrong! There could be blood! There could be buckets of blood!…


Dakota Granados

At the other side of a circular pit of murky water, his snarling twin sister, Emerald (Lindsay Rico), looks on with contempt. She’s drunk. Always. Emerald, Ty tells us, can read alligator minds. She can also, it seems, summon the creatures. A blazingly primitive dance ensues. In the pit. The girl faces a slatted door from beyond which comes intermittent hissing. We’re riveted.

After an (unseen) show, the misfit siblings blame one another for poor business. Emerald has a mouth like a crude truck driver who swallowed a thesaurus. Having mostly raised themselves, they’re slavishly codependent, though in denial. We don’t learn strengths and burdens till much later. Palpably visceral fighting – in the wet pit – flows organically from expletives. Emerald removes her costume and wig demanding Ty go into town and steal more whiskey. She disdains food.


Dakota Granados, Lindsay Rico

Lucy (Talene Monahon), a self avowed “searcher”, appears with her duffle bag when Ty leaves. She’s seen the show and, mesmerized by Emerald, declares unconditional obeisance. (The character talks like a Ferlinghetti poem – endless colorful impressions with minimal punctuation.) All the object of her adoration wants, however, is liquor – which the stranger just happens to have. “I stole the bottle from an old man in Australia who turned his back to pee.” As long as Lucy can supply, she’ll be tolerated. In doing so with tenacious artifice, she inadvertently affects every relationship in the play.

Ty doesn’t return that night. He’s spending time with childhood best friend Danny (Julian Elijah Martinez), whose football scholarship provided escape to a life of egotistical excess on a silver platter. I won’t tell you about the men’s ungovernable bond, which ricochets with the impact of a pinball made out of a grenade.

Meanwhile, we observe simple minded Merick (Samuel H. Levine), and his “princess” Diane (Lexi Lapp), a wispy, solitary girl who volleys back elaborate fantasies of pink castles filled with babies. Merick has enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve to prove manliness to his father. “My recruiter says everythins’ just like a giant video game and I’m really good at video games.” The Corps is sure to eat this innocent alive. Corruption touches him before then, but with counter-intuitive results.


Samuel H. Levine, Lexi Lapp

The last inescapable, spellbinding connection is that of Emerald and an Alligator (Rex – Bobby Moreno) who haunts the scenario as if Captain Hook’s beast were conjured by Jung or Baudelaire. Whether the eloquent, savage presence is actual doesn’t matter a whit. He was here in the Paleocene Age and will remain after we’re all gone – Emerald’s alter ego and walking death. Jessica Scott’s fabulous puppet/costume melds creature and actor. Its controlled jaw, spilling gut, and a dangling piece of plastic can holder, I gather the reptiles can’t digest, add immeasurably.

Playwright Hilary Bettis interweaves her embattled characters with unerring, hell bent aptitude. How she knows what she knows is a mystery. The variety and credibility of even her most outrageous invention is startling. One lengthy description of pig slaughter is about as evocative as it gets. Language is gloriously rich and raw, never inappropriate to context.


Bobby Moreno (background), Talene Monahon, Lindsay Rico

It would be unfair to call out only one or two players in such a splendid ensemble.

Lindsay Rico (Emerald) blazes through the piece at 150% commitment, as if possessed.  A virtuoso performance.

Dakota Granados (Ty) morphs seamlessly from bravado to heartrending emotional casualty.

Samuel H. Levine and Lexi Lapp balance each other’s ability to personify naivete and vulnerability. Levine’s unexpected awakening is a nuanced pleasure to watch.

Julian Elijah Martinez’s Danny and Talene Monahon’s Lucy have less visible trajectories. Martinez’s accent is a bit hard to understand at the outset. The actor dramatically comes into his own in agonized conflict. Monahon seems less purposefully wiley and hard than suits her character.

Bobby Moreno’s Alligator is Shakespearean. We don’t need to see the performer’s face to be utterly affected.

The company throw themself into inhabiting Bettis’s world both literally and theatrically. I imagine most have multiple bruises and are prone to catching cold. Director Elena Araoz has done a masterful job brimming with creativity, wonder, and pith.The artist is as accomplished with character as she is with visuals and pacing.

Fight Direction is painfully real (UnkleDave’s Fight-House). Accents are not only pristine, but all of a type. (Dialect Coach-Blake Segal) Ari Fulton’s Costumes make one want to bathe.Samantha Shoffner’s Props and Blood Effects are cringe-worthy. Scenic Design by Arnulfo Maldonado manages to be both minimal and redolent. Use of a steep stairway far from the pit (providing view) and doors behind which the Alligator (and band) lives are very effective. Amith Chandrashaker’s Lighting haunts.

Don’t miss this extraordinary production.

Photos by Heather Phelps
Opening: Bobby Moreno, Lindsay Rico

New Georges presents
Alligator by Hilary Bettis
Directed by Elena Araoz
Original Music by Daniel Ocanto, Graham Ulicny, Sean Smith
ART NY Theaters  502 West 53rd Street
Through December 18, 2016

Widowers’ Houses – An 1800s Moral Quandary That Resonates Still


People who live in glass houses have no right to throw stones. But, on my honor, I never knew that my house was a glass one until you pointed it out.  Dr. Harry Trench (in the play)

Having just finished his medical boards, young Dr. Harry Trench (Jeremy Beck) is traveling abroad with his somewhat older friend, the flamboyant, yet rather proper William De Burgh Cokane, aka Billy (Jonathan Hadley). On the boat to Remagen on the Rhine and again at a hotel, they meet gentleman/businessman Sartorious (Terry Layman) and his pretty daughter Blanche (Talene Monahon). For the benefit of her father, Billy loudly extols Harry’s eligibility as a well born (if not wealthy) husband with great prospects.


Jonathan Hadley and Jeremy Beck

We quickly learn that the couple has already connected and that the café encounter is a set up. Harry is smitten. Blanche is not only willing, but immediately takes a Machiavellian lead. Her father, who knows more than he lets on, is in favor, but stipulates that the suitor’s family must first prove welcoming. Letters are sent and received.


Talene Monahon and Jeremy Beck

Back in London, Harry and his wingman arrive at Sartorious’s home to formalize the liaison. Here, they accidently meet the gentleman’s abused rent collector/building manager Lickcheese (John Plumpis), who, having just been fired for trying to keep his boss’s tenements in necessary repair, pleads his case before the two strangers. Sartorious, it seems, is a slum landlord of the worst, most greedy and unfeeling kind.

Harry is appalled. Unwilling to give up his suit and without telling her what he’s learned, he insists that Blanche and he live on his modest income rather than accepting substantial funds from her father. Accustomed to the best, she refuses, assuming her intended is using the precondition as an excuse to break off their engagement. To say she goes ballistic is putting it mildly. Sartorious’s explanation to Harry (and a more pragmatic Billy) is blatantly class prejudiced, indifferent, and, as Shaw presents it, realistic.


Jonathan Hadley and John Plumpis

When the clever Lickcheese’s fortunes change, he returns to offer a deal to the other three men. Harry discovers he’s unwittingly tied to Sartorious’s real estate empire and must decide whether to join what is a legal but, at root, morally reprehensible scheme, accepting a tainted income. Blanche would come with the package. We learn part of his decision.

The quandary is easily updated to decisions made by contemporary businessmen every day.

This is George Bernard Shaw’s first produced play (1892), but already shows great facility with characterization, language, exploration of the battle of the sexes, and abiding interest in social issues and politics. It’s both entertaining and intriguing.


Jeremy Beck, Talene Monahon, Jonathan Hadley, Terry Layman, John Plumpis, Hanna Creek

The most compelling actors on stage are Jonathan Hadley as William De Burgh Cockane and John Plumpis as Lickcheese. Hadley manages to walk a fine line between over the top and pitch perfect exaggeration, his every phrase and gesture expressing a wholly developed persona. When not actively attempting to draw attention, Billy is nonetheless visibly preparing; when he’s admonished, he elegantly sulks. Plumpis (who looks startlingly like Charles Chaplin), offers first a desperate toady and then a cheeky arriviste, each incarnation with its own set of viable emotions and mannerisms, both completely real. An excellent Cockney accent illuminates.

Talene Monahon (Blanche) works strictly from the surface at all times and is feasible only at the very start of the play. Jeremy Beck’s (Harry) switches from excessive, youthful exuberance to newfound gravitas without visible evolution.

As the Founding Artistic Director of Gingold Theatrical Group, Director David Staller lives and breathes George Bernard Shaw. Much of this production therefore feels authentic. In particular, Billy (William), though florid, appears to be at the same time, of the period, amusing, and irritating and Lickcheese’s change of station is adroitly reflected in his manner.

I have a rather large caveat, however: Blanche is portrayed as so unnecessarily vitriolic/histrionic, it’s impossible to believe Harry would even consider the relationship. Fury can be depicted without hitting, screaming, and flailing. This woman is supposed to be insidiously controlling, not an obvious harridan. Where is her place in the choice around which the play revolves if she’s not for a moment a credible option?

Set Design by Brian Prather is clever, spare and elegant.

Barbara A. Bell’s Costume Design is flattering and evocative, but Blanche’s parading around her home in copious jewelry – including a tiara – is ludicrous.

Photos by Marielle Solan
Opening: Jeremy Beck

TACT and The Gingold Theatrical Group present
Widowers’ Houses by George Bernard Shaw
Directed by David Staller
The Beckett Theatre
410 West 42nd Street
Though April 2, 2016