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A CurtainUp NJ Review

Don't they say once every seven years in New York City something quintessentially New Yorky happens to you? — Vera

Photo: left to right Susan Maris, Jenny Bacon, Benjamin Puvalowski (Photo credit: Suzanne Barabas)
As presumably validated by the above quote, 30-something actress Vera Resnick (Susan Maris) has been hit by a young man on a bicycle at an intersection in New York's East Village. Although her legs are badly bruised, she has made it home to her Upper West Side Apartment (credibly designed with usable kitchen and sunken living room by Jessica Parks) where her husband Nate (Adam Bradley) aids and comforts her with hugs and icepacks while also listening to her detailed encounter. A divorce attorney, Nate rationally considers what Vera might do as Vera irrationally babbles on about chance encounters and fate as a viable contributor.

In Sandy Rustin's Struck fate, fortune, new age(y) philosophy, Jewish ancestry and the Holocaust collide with a mix of the hilarious and the horrifying. The appearance of the cyclist James (Benjamin Puvalowski) with a bouquet as an apparent gesture of concern is as surprising as are the unsurprisingly numerous visits to the Resnick's apartment by their kooky middle-aged neighbor Vicky (Jenny Bacon). She is a motor-mouthed woman with questionable psychic abilities and a range of interests that careen between the homeopathic to the metaphysical. On the lookout for a third husband is also on her agenda.

Totally off-the-wall, Vicky is the main source of the play's humor, in as much as a painting that literally is taken off the wall becomes its point of horror. More of the plot, which the playwright has said was inspired by her own being hit by a bike, would be a spoiler.

Those who have seen the recent film Woman in Gold with Helen Mirren, will be additionally intrigued by a plot device that does a double twist on the attempt by Jews to reclaim art stolen from them by the Nazis. At any rate, there are some lively and enlightening encounters between the above characters as well as with a middle-aged Frenchman Bertrand (nicely restrained performance by Matthew Shepard) who enters late during the eighty-minute run time. There's fine acting by Maris, as the hyper-anxious Vera and Bradley as the calming Nate, the play, under the precise direction of Don Stephenson. However, the play gets its most dramatic fuel, however, from Puvalowski as the young man with a mission and from Bacon whose un-moored chattering suggests she may also be unhinged.

Rustin's comedy should find a welcome in regional theaters following this world premiere.

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Struck by Sandy Rustin Directed by Don Stephenson

Cast: Adam Bradley (Nate Resnick), Susan Maris (Vera Resnick), Jenny Bacon (Vicky), Benjamin Puvalowski (James), Matthew Shepard (Bertrand)
Stage Manager: Jennifer Tardibuono
Scenic Design: Jessica Parks
Lighting Design: Jill Nagle
Sound Design: Merek Royce Press
Costume Design: Patricia E. Doherty
Running Time: 1 hour 20 minutes no intermission
New Jersey Repertory Company, Long Branch, N.J.
179 Broadway, Long Branch, N.J.
(732) 229 - 3166
Tickets: $45.00
Performances: Thursday, Fridays at 8 pm; Saturdays, 3 pm and 8 pm; Sundays at 2 pm.

NJ Theaters
NJ Theatre Alliance
Discount Tix Information

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©Copyright 2016, Elyse Sommer.
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Struck - a decent comedy about the reclamation of ancestry around a deplorable act Read More
Struck/Sandy Rustin (New Jersey 2016)

Struck - a decent comedy about the reclamation of ancestry around a deplorable act Read More