Short Term Listings
BOOKS and CDs
LETTERS TO EDITOR
Writing for Us
A CurtainUp Review
By Julia Furay
The story focuses on two married couples, next-door neighbors in a squalid apartment building. Both pairs are already teetering on the edge of violence, madness and despair when the play begins. Keesha and Roachie are on the brink of poverty and at the mercy of their landlord as they struggle daily with Roachie's crack addiction as well as his screw-up tendencies. Harry and Lil don't have it much easier. Lil's mental instability is evident by her acting like a child and apparentlyincapable of leaving the apartment. Her relationship with Harry is more that of a parent and child than a husband and wife though the situation is ndlessly frustrating to both of them.
The drama heightens when the ruthless pimp/gangster landlord, Donovan, brings the mysterious four-year-old into Keisha and Roachie's apartment. The two couples are pushed even closer towards the edge when Lil and Keesha begin to suspect the fate in store for the child.
This is an unflinching story of heartbreak and menace with the audience uncomfortably riveted to watching this high stakes game of just who will go overboard. Playwright Beckim (also co-artistic director of Partial Comfort) is to be commended on creating a drama that is so smartly constructed and with well-rounded, damaged but also funny character. Beckim[s beautifully written script is well served by the cast and director John Gould Rubin.
The five actors are all standouts, beginning with Eva Kaminsky who seems to literally throw herself into the role of Lil as she explodes in tantrums, begs her husband for a puppy, and sobs in despair and terror when she discovers what is going on next door.
Quincy Tyler Bernstine as Keesha is as grown-up and world-weary as Kaminsky is childlike. Her deadpan reactions to both Roachie's irresponsibility and Lil's instability provide some of the first act's funniest moments as the revelation of her backstory and her determination to right what's wrong make for the most moving segments in the second act.
Alfredo Narciso captures Roachie's inherent weak-willed nature as well as a surprisingly poetic soul underneath. He's a man who perpetually disappoints his wife but nevertheless rambles on about the beauty of her laugh and the poignancy of the moon.
Marc Rosenthal as Lil's husband Harry initially seems an endlessly patient and heroic caretaker but as he too inches dangerously towards the breaking point, we see his capacity for fury unravel and explode. Tj e cast is rounded out by Michael Gladis as the heartless Donovan, whose early threats become appalling reality as the play wears on.
Gould Rubin's direction allows everything to tie together. He does so by seamlessly interweaving the scenes in the two apartments, often cleverly overlapping the end of one scene with the beginning of another, as when during a particularly intense scene between Lil and Donovan, Harry slowly starts to walk in. At first you think he's part of the current scene and begin to relax, knowing Lil is safe, but it then becomes apparent that what is going on with Lil and Donovan is going to play its course before Harry actually arrives. Even though Harry is only a few feet away in reality, this amps up the already tense situation and makes it even more harrowing.
While I wasn't entirely satisfied with the climax, which seemed a little too quick after such a gradual, tense buildup, Beckim's story, about the damage people can do to each other with the best of intentions is a very moving one. 'Nami isn't a a happy play, nor easy to watch. But it's one that keeps you transfixed and stay with you after it ends.
The Internet Theatre Bookshop "Virtually Every Play in the World" --even out of print plays
Easy-on-the budget super gift for yourself and your musical loving friends. Tons of gorgeous pictures.
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
Click image to buy.
Leonard Maltin's 2005 Movie Guide
6, 500 Comparative Phrases including 800 Shakespearean Metaphors by our editor.
Click image to buy.
Go here for details and larger image.