Friday, February 28, 2014

Theater Ninjas: [sic]

Written by Melissa James Gibson, directed by Pandora Robertson. Starring Courtney Nicole Auman, Rachel Lee Kolis, Ryan Lucas, Michael Rosen and Gabriel Razi.

At the 78th Street Studios through March 15.

As the self-described "Food truck of Cleveland Theater," Theater Ninjas presentations are always an interesting blend of story and location. [sic] -- yes, the title of the play is an editorial  notation, is Theater Ninjas' latest production has taken up residence on the airy second floor of the 78th Street Studios for a short run, making for a nice change from the dark and foreboding Masonic Hall that has hosted other recent productions.

The notation [sic], editorially "used in brackets after a copied or quoted word that appears odd or erroneous to show that the word is quoted exactly as it stands in the original". The three apartment dwellers that feature at the center of the show each individually appear odd and erroneous -- Theo (Ryan Lucas), a composer who literally lost his wife and is struggling with a project; Babette (Lee Kolis), an an editor for "obscure subject matter"--and habitually short on cash; and Frank (Gabriel Riazi), studying--of all things--auctioneering.

Those three and the tensions between them and the unseen, but often referenced Larry. Unrequited love, the nature of friendship (there was an awesome quote/question about the nature of friendship buried midway through).

Effective staging -- three apartments defined by simple platforms and a single 2x4 serving as a door for each framed most of the action; a back-lit silhouette on scrim filling in for others... and the oft-mentioned but recently dead Jorgansen and her cats adding a dimension of interest, contribute interest and texture to the industrial canvas in the Studios.

Though examining the nature of friendship and romance, [sic] is imminently compelling, and laugh-out-loud funny, avoiding the obscure and existential in favor of accessibility and relatability.


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