Politics, Technology, and Language

If thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought — George Orwell

Fringe 2011 Review: The Apartment

Posted by metaphorical on 20 August 2011

The Apartment: A Play With Four Sides

1h 15m
VENUE #1: Teatro SEA
Performance reviewed: Fri 19 @ 8:30
Remaining performances: Mon 22 @ 9:30 Wed 24 @ 2 Sat 27 @ 4:45

Rating: 7
(using the BroadwayWorld rating system of 10=effusive praise; 9=excellent; 7/8=positive with some reservations; 5/6=respectfully unenthused; 3/4=mostly negative; 2=little to recommend; 1=offended, insulted, angered)

The Apartment is a mostly charming collage of four vignettes written separately to a common element—a desireable apartment on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. A few additional common elements were added later; the overall effect is seamless.

In the first, a couple comes home to find the A/C doesn’t work. They quickly discover that the entire city has been in a blackout for two hours. He, a lawyer, covets her, but settles for her apartment, which she has been packed up to leave for two years. He writes the lease on the spot.

In the second, a couple sublet from the lawyer, who is traveling; the third is another couple, also subletting, despite the man having to carry the woman and her wheelchair up the walk-up’s stairs. In the fourth, something has happened and the apartment is being cleaned up as violent crime scene by the owner of the small cleanup business and his new employee. This vignette, like the others, takes us through a few ups and down in their romantic relationship.

The third is the weakest (nor does it match the description at fringenyc.org); there’s a surprise in the center that’s fun but can’t sustain a playlet by itself, and the whole piece functions mainly as the backstory to the fourth, which was my favorite and apparently that of the rest of the audience as well. It was the funniest and had several Marty-esque qualities that mostly serve it well, except that movie’s habit of telegraphing its strongest punches.

The acting, especially the various ethnic and regional accents, was strong. The sets were the most elaborate I’ve yet seen in this year’s festival, though a few problems with a doorway and a window evidenced the reason most shows keep it simple.

There were a couple of other small nits to pick. The plot of the first vignette requires both that they arrive at the apartment in the daytime and at night. In the fourth, the cleanup couple wear rather complete and nicely authentic disposable hazmat suits but without the overbooties needed to keep blood and brains from ruining their shoes. These are easily fixed and in any case only minorly detracted from an enjoyable show.

[more fringe 2011 reviews here]

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