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 08, 2009

FRIGID: The Question House

The Question House

Reviewed by Cindy Pierre

Does your job keep you on your toes? Are you looking to keep your mind sharp, your juices creative and your heart strong? If so, Tara Dairman's funny black comedy, The Question House, is looking for you. But before you answer the call, there's one thing you should know: your job can kill you.

Set in Brooklyn, “God's last refuge,” The Question House is inhabited by Harvey Krytz (Howard Green) and Margaret (Cam Kornman), his most senior (naturally and professionally) employee. Business is rolling in, but there's not enough staff to handle the workload--they keep dropping dead when they don't follow the rule: all questions, all the time. If you forget and try to declare yourself (park your ego by the door), you'll die instantly from cardiac arrest (although on stage it looks and sounds like death by gunfire).

But not everybody goes quickly. Bingham, played strongly but over-dramatically by Snezhana Chernova, gives her job a good go until she forgets to put her resignation in the form of a question. After that, Krytz and Margaret are left to figure out how the paramedics can move the body safely without wearing toe tags themselves. Luckily, the grim reaper only lives inside the house.

The Question House is gimmicky, but it mostly works because the cast’s comedic muscles are well-developed. Kornman, under Catherine Siracusa's tongue-in-cheek direction, is especially great at putting a wily and facetious inflection on her questions, making it delightful to watch her at every turn. Dairman's script can be tiresome at times, but it is also quite clever. The writing shines the most in the amusing exchanges between Margaret, Krytz, and Charlie Peat (Nick DeSimone), a new applicant, and the show’s highlight involves the “questionable” parts of a Bob Dylan song—when Officer Franco (Tom Tinelli) decides he wants to hear the rest, that radio starts to boogie—and you’ve never seen a dance like this until you’ve seen Michael Broughton's special effects.

Between all the tomfoolery, you might “question” the premise: why subject yourself to this type of workplace, particularly when freedom is right outside the door? The answer is simple: for all the guffaws and goofy smiles that you're bound to experience in the show's curt 40 minutes.
FRIGID: The Question House (Run Time; Intermission(s)?)
Kraine Theater (85 E. 4th St., btwn 2nd and Bowery)
Tickets: ($10)
Through March 7th.

No comments: