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.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Fringe/The Books

Reviewed by Cindy Pierre

What would you do if you lived in an apartment cluttered with books, but there still weren't enough stories to escape into? What would you do if you were filled with rage, but the illustrations weren't enough to stifle the beast within? If you're Mark O'Connor (Scott David Nogi) in The Books, you'd hire a pro Domme named Mistress Chimera (Aadya Bedi) to fill you with desire, and then stamp it out with pain, humiliation and degradation over and over again. Yet, unlike the characters in books, real people don't always stay in the roles or follow the paths that are prescribed for them. Michael Edison Hayden's play is a dark, somewhat entertaining dramedy about what happens when things don't go as planned.

Written mostly as BDSM sessions (where roles between a dominant and a submissive are assumed) with a few out-of-character scenes in between, The Books is a little risque-a rubber-clad, hollow-toned Bedi spits in Nogi's mouth and literally sits on his face as standard activities-but not very realistic. There is some witty banter between the “queen” and her “slave” and even when they're just being themselves, but when Mistress Chimera, a dominatrix with many clients, starts taking too much of an interest in Mark's personal life, the premise becomes unbelievable. It's not so much that things of this nature can't happen in the line of duty, but Mark is a character that's so guarded, emotionally crippled and unlikable that it's hard to fathom why she would even bother even if her life is rife with unhappiness and dysfunction. The artificiality also extends into the production itself: although there are sound clips to support a Knicks game, those in line view of the TV onstage can see that the set is off.

The Books may explore social abnorms in a way that's rarely depicted (if at all) in theater, but the pages need to be filled with more relatable material.
The Books (Running time: 90 minutes)
The Cherry Pit (155 Bank Street between West and Washington Streets)
Tickets: $15.

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