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A CurtainUp Review

Cherry Hill
By Amanda Cooper


Who doesn't love a show that opens with live accordion music? After all, is there any other instrument out there with a more quirky, retro feel?

Despite my love for this instrument, this opening was a non sequitur. The main character, a wet-behind-the-ears college graduate named Bernie Morton (played sweetly by Rawn Erickson II) has come home and is whimsically playing his accordion by an apartment building of his high school crush. In this absurdist play filled with random moments, this was one of the few that did not completely work. Most of this two hour one-acter does delicately find that balance of quirky, yet not unreasonable.

Cherry Hill's scene changes prove how a little music can go a long way to add great fun to a play. The variety of music and voiceovers used to fill the blackened stage ranged from classy to classic, from hipster to hippy. Kerisse Hutchinson as Deirdre rendered a hilarious karaoke "I can't live without you." The entire cast made great use of a mock-momentous show-stopper with the one original song written for this production by Avi Kunstler (cheers, Avi!).

This play uses a presentational, off-beat style to tell us that the suburbs can be a crazy place to live. To be more specific, the suburbs can have corrupt cops, closeted kids, crazy sluts, dead-end jobs, unrequited love, and parents who have gone crazy. This is nothing we didn't already know from films like American Beauty or plays like Suburbia -- but it is rare when these plot lines make us laugh in the oddly dark way that Cherry Hill does.

Towards the end, the story takes on a serious lilt, and this is when the momentum and story line weakens. The cast, director, and writer prove themselves highly skilled with absurdist comedy, but lack the ability to make the delicate transition into absurdist dramedy. This makes for a confusing ending, but does not spoil the fun of the evening overall.

Cherry Hill
Written by Matt Okin
Directed by Spencer Chandler

Set Design: David Balboa
Lighting Design: Jason Matthew Lee Norris
Costume Design: Deana Barone
Sound Design: Bradford West
Running Time 2 hours

Theater For The New City, 155 First Avenue (9th/10th Sts, 212/475-0108, or www.theaterforthenewcity.net
9/03/03 to 9/21/03
Wednesday-Saturday at 8PM and Sunday at 3PM-- $10
Reviewed by Amanda Cooper based on Sept 11th performance

Mendes at the Donmar
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metaphors dictionary cover
6, 500 Comparative Phrases including 800 Shakespearean Metaphors by CurtainUp's editor.
Click image to buy.
Go here for details and larger image.



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