According to Lincoln Center's new LCT3 project at its slogan, it takes "New Audiences for New Artists." It also takes new critics, hence the establishment of Theater Talk's New Theater Corps in 2005, a way for up-and-coming theater writers and eager new theatergoers to get exposure to the ever-growing theater scene in New York City. Writers for the New Theater Corps are given the opportunity to immerse themselves in the off-off and off-Broadway theater scene, learning and giving back high-quality reviews at the same time. Driven by a passion and love of the arts, the New Theater Corps aims to identify, support, and grow the arts community, one show and one person at a time.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

The Director

The Director, premiering at The Flea Theater, is a woman's odyssey to regain her sense of self after falling prey to a notorious sexual predator. In a search for answers she pursues the women -many and from all walks of life -who also succumbed to his advances, and so ensues a psychological battle with her as pursued versus her as pursuer. This thriller will no doubt leave you breathless and wanting more. Go see it while you still can.

Reviewed by Kristyn R Smith

There is much The Director gets right. For starters, the acting is top notch. The Bats (resident company of The Flea Theater), an ensemble of eight women and two men, were excellent. The women, particularly, stand out. Partially because they carry the show; partially because I can't remember the last time I saw so many amazing actresses on one stage. It was a pleasure. So too was the commitment of this cast to their characters. All embodied their character every moment of the play. The physicality, glances, and other gestures of non verbal communication spoke volumes. That's important in a work centered on passion and sexual tension, but here it proved invaluable because so much is left unspoken.

I can appreciate playwrights seeking thinking audiences, provided there is something to think about. Barbara Cassidy generally excels here. One exception is the character Shoot. Shoot silently watches tv in one corner of the stage, while the audience take their seats and throughout most of the play. Except for a few brief interludes of comic relief, he does little more than stare blankly and take up space. I'm not certain of his purpose. I found his presence onstage distracting. Perhaps such a device would be better suited to a larger theater, where there's more space between this loafer and the action. However, this play isn't served by his presence.

The designers, by contrast, use the resources of play and theater to full advantage. The set, by Neal Wilkinson, lends an eerie tone to the piece; its multiple shadowy corners allow for characters to instantly emerge and disappear. The video design too was quite masterful and certainly a highlight of the show. Without revealing too much, all I can say is I found the last video clip haunting, both in content and style. I think the play would have benefited from more. After all the designers had two large wall sections for video projections, and the title character, the subject of nearly every discussion in the play, was a film director. Perhaps that will come about in future incarnations of this work.

Even without the added video, there is great beauty in this production through its attention to detail and bold approach to a disturbing reality. Cassidy takes a penetrating look at victim and victimizer, shedding light on issues such as sexual harassment, rape, child molestation, lesbianism and male and female stereotypes. That alone more than pays for admission. But when you also consider the performers and production value, the total is well, priceless.

The Director runs through March 31
at The Flea Theater
41 White Street
between Broadway and Church St
Tickets are $20
Call 212-352-3101 for reservations

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