Reviewed by Ilana Novick
Writer/performer Anthony Fascious Martinez is a rapper, not a storyteller. That’s why he tries to fill his one-man show, Penumbra—about growing up with a single mother in the Bronx (his father is “working,” that is, in jail)—with audio and video supplements (recordings of family members, his personal drawings).
What he needs to do, however, is slow down: he jumps too quickly between stories of himself and various family members, that it’s hard to pinpoint which events involve him, and which may have taken place decades ago. Martinez’s strength is less in storytelling, and more in music. Singing as well as rapping a few of the sections, including one about first finding out his father went to jail, is one way he attempts to stand out.
His lyrical flow and choice of beats is a start, but does not quite make up for the subject matter, or the lack of continuity in his storytelling. These are immigrant stories told with an appealing mixture of humor and regret, but unfortunately for Martinez, Penumbra joins a crowded field of growing up in the hood/immigration to New York stories Penumbra might have been stronger without both the audio recordings and video clips, and more opportunities for Martinez to showcase his musical skills. That’s what gives Penumbra an edge in the popular field of immigrant stories.
Penumbra (75 minutes, no intermission)
The Actor's Playhouse (100 Seventh Avenue South)
Tickets available at fringenyc.org or at Fringe Central at 54 Crosby Street ($15)
Performances August 26 at 8pm, and August 29th at 10pm.
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.