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A CurtainUp Review
The Zero Hour

By Michael Walek

If they can see pictures of bodies being bulldozed into open graves, they can see the word 'homosexual' on a page— O
The Zero Hour
Angela Goethals and Hannah Cabell
(Photo: Rob Strong)
Madeleine George's new play The Zero Hour, just opened at the Walkerspace as part of 13P. If you don't know what 13P is, don't admit it. They are just the über-cool playwriting group of thirteen playwrights who don't just develop but actually do new plays. This, their tenth production, reflects their sensibility in every way. The Zero Hour is bold, thoughtful, and incredibly beautiful.

Rebecca and O live in a Queens walk up. It needs some work. So does the women's relationship.

O is a proud Out woman who doesn't work. She wears men's clothes and likes home improvement. Rebecca can't qite admit she's gay even though she's in love with O. Everyday Rebecca goes into the city for a job in children's publishing. She is working on a textbook and activity guide about the Holocaust. The topic haunts her, seeping into her therapy sessions and subconscious.

As the play begins we are on a #7 train ride encountering Fascists on the subway and mothers in the bedroom. There is a dash of magic realism, a dash of reality and a healthy dose of humor to make the hour and forty minutes whiz by.

Zero Hour is a drink of water in the often barren theatrical desert where a play that purports to be about something actually is about something. George is exploring how our society views the Holocaust as the end all and be all of tragic events. Hers is an off kilter angle to approach the topic, but it leaves one stunned. I dare you not to discuss it during post theater coffee or dinner. George is exploring how our society views the Holocaust as the end all and be all of tragic events. Hers is an off kilter approach to the topic, but it leaves one stunned. I dare you not to discuss it during post theater coffee or dinner. The Playwright's enormous intelligence is evident everywhere: in a plot that's not wrapped around too quirky characters . . .in the uncontrived ending. . . in the elliptical scenes that cut through unnecissary dialogue.The story moves and shifts over the resourceful set by Mimi Lien and is given shape from Ben Kato’s lighting design.

The two actresses are so winning that it's hard to let them go. As an audience member commented as we walked out, "I felt like they became my friends." Hannah Cabell, the play's O, also takes on myyriad other characters. In the second scene, when she portrays a therapist, it took me a moment to realize that this was indeed Cabell. Her voice softened. Her body seemed to lengthen. Impossible as it seems for someone to drop ten pounds from one scene to the next, Hannal Cabell convinces us that she has done so.

Angela Goethal's Rebecca is moody as well as unfair, but she's also painfully human. Goethal's transitions from monologue to action are seamless. As directed by Adam Greenfield, both she and Cabell maneuver the seamless transitions between the script's realism and interwoven flights of fancy. A final shift by Angela almost called for cartoon bubble to spelli out "pow." The women on stage seem totally smitten with one another — as I was with them.

There has been a lot of talk about the influx of gay theatre in New York. With plays like Next Fall and The Temperamentals and musicals like Yank and The Kid getting their due, it seemed a little sad that the representations were all male. it's therefore heartening to see this story about two gay women. The Zero Hour runs for a slight four weeks, so don't let the weeks go by without catching it.

The Zero Hour
By Madeleine George
Directed by Adam Greenfield
Cast: Hannah Cabell (O), Gardiner Comfort (Doug) , Angela Goethals (Rebecca)
Set Design: Mimi Lien
Costume Design: Sydney Maresca
Lighting Design: Ben Kato
Sound Design: Asa Wember
Running Time: One hour and forty minutes without an intermission
Walkerspace, 46 Walker St. nr. Church
(212) 352-3101
Tickets ($18)
Performances: June 22-25, 27-30, July 1-2, 5-10.
From 6/22/10; closing 7/10/10. Review by Michael Walek based on performance 06/25/10
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