Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Embarrassment of Riches

Contributed by Hillary Cohen

Independent theater in New York City was an embarrassment of riches in the 2011-2012 season. Greg Horton and Renee Claire Bergeron may have received the 2012 IT Awards for their outstanding performances, but they were definitely not the only dynamic duo I saw Off-Off-Broadway this year.

Jay Potter was so totally believable as the eponymous patriarch in The Play About My Dad, I genuinely feel like I’ve met the playwright’s father. I staged managed a show featuring his cast mate, Geany Masai, several years ago, but her embodiment of her character was so complete, I still felt like she introduced me to someone I never would have met otherwise.

That shock of surprise also happened for me at Reckless last Christmas. I knew the plot before attending, but somehow Jan-Peter Pedross’ acting was disarming, I was disappointed by his character’s unflattering past all over again. Jason Jacoby flipped through his multiple supporting roles with amazing dexterity, each with his own dynamic personality and posture.

Speaking of dexterity, Emily Gleeson and Lizzie Vieh were stunning as the broken shards of one suicidal woman’s consciousness in Sarah Kane's challenging final play, 4.48 Psychosis. I was impressed by how smoothly they worked together through an emotional rollercoaster script.

Iyaba Ibo Mandingo did not share the performance space with another actor for his autobiographical one man show, unFRAMED. He confidently served as poet-playwright, subject, and star – finishing the set decoration as he went!

These are, of course, just a few of this year’s excellent performances. I am constantly delighted by those moments replaying in my memory even months later and I look forward to seeing what these artists and their companies do next.

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