Two years of post-shutdown theater has dropped at New York phases a slew of solo performers wrestling with topics like grief, dying and the apocalypse — and people are simply the comedies. Solo reveals are cheap to provide and comparatively low-lift endeavors for an trade nonetheless on shaky floor.
There was no scarcity this fall, and now 4 solo reveals operating Off Broadway display a variety of approaches to the shape, proving, at the very least for this spherical, that baring your interior ideas and fears pays off. “A Good Day to Me Not to You,” on the Connelly Theater within the East Village, and “Sad Boys in Harpy Land,” at Playwrights Horizons in Midtown Manhattan, go for all-out vulnerability, dissecting the psyche as if the stage have been an working desk. “School Pictures” and “Amusements,” additionally at Playwrights Horizons, take the alternative tack, with performers who maintain themselves at a distance to direct consideration elsewhere, however with units that may be distracting and evasive.
The center-aged narrator of “A Good Day to Me To not You” divulges intimate particulars from the beginning: She is nursing a shock case of genital warts, she tells the viewers, that has been dormant for the last decade since she final had intercourse.
On this wryly candid confessional, offered by Waterwell, the author and performer Lameece Issaq performs a New Yorker with a mordant humorousness who’s weathering a downswing: She was compelled to to stop orthodontics faculty due to her bouts of vertigo, after which she was fired from a dental lab for submitting away the imperfections in sufferers’ plaster molds. Now she is nursing HPV and shifting right into a convent boardinghouse named for St. Agnes, the patron saint of virgins and sexual abuse survivors. (The weathered sanctuary set by Peiyi Wong shifts locales below Mextly Couzin’s dynamic lighting.)
Directed with swish sensitivity by Lee Sunday Evans, the inventive director of Waterwell, Issaq’s efficiency is each tender and frank, flipping with ease between instantly addressing the viewers because the narrator and voicing succinctly sketched characters (everybody’s enamel inform a narrative). Pushed by her maternal impulse, first towards her nephew after which a possible youngster of her personal, the narrator is betrayed by what she can not management, however all the time returns, by some elliptical path, to the care she owes herself.
In “Unhappy Boys in Harpy Land,” an exhilarating and frenetic psychological breakdown of a present, Alexandra Tatarsky, who makes use of they and them pronouns, inhabits a graduate seminar’s value of German literary characters like kindergarten drag (the scenic, costume and particularly ingenious prop design is by Andreea Mincic). A self-described “anxious clown,” they so incessantly disrupt their very own act with reflexive interrogation that the interruptions turn out to be the purpose. With vibrating eyes, Tatarsky sips from proliferating espresso cups, and so they seem locked in a discursive effort to return of age, create one thing new and reckon with their dying drive. (No stress.)
Tatarsky continues circling again to Goethe’s Wilhelm Meister, an prosperous boy toiling in his bed room struggling to jot down a play about self-loathing and inaction. Often, Tatarsky’s insanity is expressed in deranged melodies (sound composition is by Shane Riley). How is anybody imagined to create artwork that makes their id legible? And why be legible in any respect?
Directed with bracing invention by Iris McCloughan, “Unhappy Boys” has the delirious impact of twisting you into communion with a live-wire artist, even whether it is arduous to inform whether or not they’re laughing, crying or each. Tatarsky’s cumulative argument appears to be that, just like the character of the Wandering Jew, whom she performs with a grey beard that trails on the ground, id exists in course of slightly than as a hard and fast set of signifiers.
First names scrawled on items of coloured development paper kind a set listing for “College Photos,” a largely sung-through collage, written and carried out by Milo Cramer, of impressions gathered from tutoring New York Metropolis college students. Cramer, who makes use of they and them pronouns, goals to assemble temporary snapshots of the privileged youth: their naive readability, rowdy insecurity and mandate to excel in a system rigged of their favor. (Cramer notes within the script that the themes listed below are fictionalized.)
These portraits of center schoolers whose mother and father may afford the tutoring charges are offered, below the path of Morgan Inexperienced, with the sonic equal of a crude crayon: a ukulele and atonal talk-singing. Twee? Sure. And grating as soon as it turns into clear that this will probably be Cramer’s sustained mode of expression for many of the present’s 60 minutes. Sounding out syllables and putting chaotic notes invokes a youthful spirit, however makes a attempting job out of tracing inventive intent within the lyrics. A lecture about systemic inequality within the metropolis’s training system comes as a welcome recess, and eventually permits Cramer to stage with the viewers as adults.
There’s a childlike high quality to the persona assumed by Ikechukwu Ufomadu in “Amusements,” regardless of the author and performer’s shawl-collar tuxedo and gentleman’s demeanor. The humor on this stand-up set is, because the title suggests, ethereal and delicate practically to a fault. Within the chasm between Ufomadu’s erudite exterior and simple-minded have an effect on comes a gentle breeze of inoffensive punchlines (“Completely satisfied Friday to all who rejoice!” “What number of of you’re alumni of college?”). The ensuing eye-roll-to-chuckle ratio will come all the way down to a matter of style.
As directed right here by Nemuna Ceesay, Ufomadu has the gracious and charming sensibility of a spiffed-up Mr. Rogers, by no means extra so than when he ventures into the viewers to ask if anybody wants a volunteer after which presents his providers. Ufomadu is suave, but in addition halting and unpolished; his set floats alongside on a stream of interesting humility.
It’s an act, after all; how a lot performers reveal of their true nature onstage could also be not possible to know. At its most profound, Ufomadu’s model of literalism signifies the extent to which all of us stand on frequent floor. The place would we be with out garments or sneakers? At house, most likely, not courageous sufficient to point out our bare selves.
A Good Day to Me To not You
By way of Dec. 16 on the Connelly Theater, Manhattan; waterwell.org.
Unhappy Boys in Harpy Land; College Photos; and Amusements
All by means of Dec. 3 at Playwrights Horizons, Manhattan; playwrightshorizons.org.