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Sides: The Fear is Real
By Jenny Sandman

Sides is the sort of play custom-made for New York audiences, full of theatre in-jokes. It slyly pokes fun at both theatrical and Asian stereotypes, and does so in a way that lets non-actors and non-Asian-Americans share in all the fun.

Written and performed by members of Mr. Miyagi's Theatre Company (and produced by Ma-Yi Theater Company), Sides is a series of sketches about every audition nightmare and stereotype. The title is drawn from the handful of script pages that actors are asked to prepare for an audition--and the sides used are taken from real auditions.

The "program" lists the parts the casting directors are trying to cast All are preposterous; to give just one example: "Tracy Lee -- Asian female, 12-35…should be familiar with a wide variety of wild animals and be able to converse in basic Zulu."

Nervous actors meet bizarre casting directors who essentially ask them to "act more Asian." An actress stumbles her way through a lip-synched version of Michael Jackson's "Thriller." All the actors jockey with each other for favored audition positioning. The successes include a callback for Medea which turns out to be a callback for Medea: The Hip-Hop Musical, complete with dance audition -- which turns into the final scene, a complete dance number with human pyramid)

The comedy is balanced with pithy observations on the theatre world so that for those with any industry familiarity, Sides is a double riot. Best of all, it doesn't take itself too seriously.

The performer/ writers --Sekiya Billman, Cindy Cheung, Paul H. Juhn, Peter Kim, Hoon Lee and Rodney To -- are all a treat. Each is equally possessed with high energy and a great sense of timing. Together they keep the play tight and focused so that thesketches segue seamlessly. Compliments too to director Anne Kauffman who has done a good job of reigning in the cast's more outlandish tendencies.

David Korins' set is dominated by a two-way mirror; the main playing area, in front, is a simple arrangement of folding chairs. Behind the mirror becomes a waiting area for the actors about to audition. Some of the scene shifts are facilitated by lighting; most, however, rely simply on the actors to make the shift.

Sides is great fun. It's funny enough to keep you in stitches for most of its hour and fifteen minutes.

Written by Mr. Miyagi's Theatre Company, produced by Ma-Yi Theater Company
Directed by Anne Kauffman
With Sekiya Billman, Cindy Cheung, Paul H. Juhn, Peter Kim, Hoon Lee and Rodney To
Sound Design by Jamie McElhinney
Set Design by David Korins
Lighting Design by John-Paul Szczepanski
Costume Design by Elizabeth Flauto
Running time: One hour and fifteen minutes with no intermission
P.S. 122, 150 First Avenue, 212-352-3101. Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8 pm, Fridays and Saturdays at 7 pm and 10 pm, Sundays at 7 pm. Tickets $28.
04/07/05 through 05/01/05
Reviewed by Jenny Sandman based on April 7th performance
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