Israel Horovitz is still hard at work, spinning nine new short yarns that look at character first, but with a nice flourish of comedy, a slice of sarcasm, and a slab of drama. They're not all perfect, but they're a well-rounded offering of a hard-working playwright's contributions to his field, and well worth seeing.
Reviewed by Aaron Riccio
Take the metaphor of "The Race" (one of the nine new playlets in Israel Horovitz's New Shorts) as a means of expressing this evening of theater. Nine actors, each running for their own reason (well, okay, one is just standing there) but united for a common cause. One's a twelve-year-old girl, exuberant but unpolished (like "Audition Play"), and one's a two-time champion, trying to outrun her own age. The pieces don't mesh together, nor should they: as is, they show the wry, comic sensibilities of their writer, Mr. Horovitz, and his range. "Affection in Time" could be Beckett, "Inconsolable" is stylized poetry, and "The Hotel Play" is classic Horovitz. Save for the wholly uneven "The Fat Guy Gets The Girl" and "The Bridal Dance," both of which try to hard to have a punchline, this is a theatrical anthology of one playwright's love of characters. Best of all, because the shows are swift, there's no room for exposition, and the plays are as distilled (though not as refined) as Line. There's a certain sort of thrill in seeing nine plays run by in one evening, each jockeying for your attention.
The cast is filled out by members of the Barefoot Theater Company and some other talented actors (like Lynn Cohen); the direction is deftly handled both by the writer and by Michael LoPorto. There's a potpourri of elements to each scene, but what's interesting is Horovitz flexing his comic impulses, even while burdened with the tragic. "Cat Lady" is the best of the pack, for while it is filled with double-takes and bad puns, the monologist is a person first, lonely and depressed. "The Hotel Play," which gets laughs from awkward misinterpretations, is ultimately about the same thing: two people, this time, each lost, but perhaps able to connect if they can let go of their masks.
The most relevant play, however, is the political piece, "Beirut Rocks," which begins as a conversation between two American students who meet during the evacuation of their overseas overseas school. These moments juxtapose the Israeli bombing of Lebanon, just outside, with the live feed Benjy (Christopher Whalen) is getting of Tiger Woods, a world away. It's the reverse of their normally sheltered American life, and what's more, their illusions are being shelled by US weapons. Before long, two more evacuees join them, including an Arab-American who, in living up to the antisemitic stereotype, surprises us with her fiery denouement.
That Horovitz, after so many plays, can still seem fresh, young, and fierce is not surprising. But it is refreshingly satisfying to see, much like this collection of short plays.
Kirk Theater (410 West 42nd)
Tickets (212-279-4200): $18.00
Performances: Wednesday - Saturday @ 8:00/Sunday @ 3:00
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