Damn the man!


The Pied Pipers of the Lower East Side


Written and Directed by Derek Ahonen

The Amoralists Theatre Company (www.theamoralists.com)

Gene Frankel Theater, 24 Bond Street

Non-union (November 2 – 25; Mon, Thu-Sun @ 8pm; Sun @ 2pm)

Review by Michael D. Jackson


Derek Ahonen’s fascinating new play, which he has also directed, is a rare creature among the world of off-off-Broadway - it is superb. With a bit more resources in the design area, the show could move as is to a commercial venue and find success. The sensational aspects of nudity and sexual freedom might get people into the theatre, but what they will come away with is an evening full of interesting ideas to ponder.


The plot surrounds a relationship between Billy, Wyatt, Dear and Dawn, two men and two women, each of whom demonstrate a sexual appetite for each of the others - it’s a bisexual haven. They live, rent free, above a fast food vegan restaurant owned by their benefactor, Donovan. The basic premise sets the stage for a character study of an unusual foursome, whose bliss is curbed by the arrival of Billy’s younger brother, Evan, an undergrad frat-boy from Iowa visiting his big brother in the wicked city for the first time. He is quickly introduced to the “roommates” and their free-love way of life, which both repels and fascinates him. Donovan comes into the picture to announce that he has sold the building and the gang will have to move. With the profits from the sale he says he will open five new vegan restaurants in wealthier parts of town; but the truth is that he is selling out for money, and the original ideals of the restaurant have been forsaken. This turn of events breaks up the group and they must grapple with separation and a completely new way of life.


The three-act comedy moves right along, despite its two-and-a-half hour length. It is a comedy with seriousness at heart and is acted beautifully by the cast of five. James Kautz as Billy is the central figure, who seems to keep all involved strung together. Kautz is a likable leader, both commanding and boyishly playful and gives a mesmerizing speech about a near death experience. Matthew Pilieci is the high-strung Wyatt, who is too concerned about life after death for his own sanity. Pilieci walked the line between the dangerous and the comic with believable ferocity. Sara Fraunfelder as Dear made a comforting voice of reason and created a calming energy to the explosive energy of the men. Helena Lee as Dawn was properly sweet as a simplistic love child who might have felt at home during the hippie revolution of the late ‘60s. Tom Bain as Donovan drew a conflicted character with clarity, while showing comic aplomb with the character’s joking nature.


Nick Lawon as Evan was distinct upon entering the stage. Physically, he immediately radiated the opposite of the communal world and while being presented as a stereotypical frat dude, he managed to be universally like that very brother that everyone knows.


The play is sexual, noisy, demanding, message-ridden, sweet, loving, and despite its aggressive nature, is actually rather conventional. This is perhaps why it works so well, for the structure is good and the conflict is relevant. If you’re in for something substantially entertaining and thought provoking, go see it.



Box Score:


Writing: 2

Directing: 2

Acting: 2

Sets: 2

Costumes: 2

Lighting/Sound: 2



Copyright 2007 by Michael D. Jackson


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