A Slice of the Apple

Written by Domenic Silipo
Directed by Ivan Comer
APS Productions in Association with Naladra Productions
NADA (closed)
Review by Judd Hollander

Sometimes a good day in New York City just means coming home alive, such as is shown in A Slice of the Apple. Consisting of a series of loosely connected vignettes, the play deals with people on the edge of society; homeless, criminals, prostitutes, struggling artists, etc., trying for their chance at the American dream, which all too often is found inside a needle or on the receiving end of a gunshot. However, what could be a sobering look at reality falls short of the mark.

The chief problem is the writing. Most of the characters are little more than one-dimensional, and so it is hard to care about what happens to them. And while some of the stories have nice touches (such as a young girl being saved from a life of prostitution by a bag lady who may or may not be a pyromaniac), they were all too long and the entire production could have easily been trimmed by a half-hour.

That's not to say there was nothing to enjoy. The play is chock full of hints of social commentary. Chief among them is the show's title tune, which opens and closes the piece (``Lost Souls Going Nowhere, Scraping To Get By, A Shooter's On The Run, Bullets Fly''). And in an interesting twist, none of the pieces has an ending; a killer gets away, a man realizes he has destroyed his marriage, one woman may decide to prostitute herself, another may decide not to. As in real life, most situations aren't wrapped up in a neat little package.

The cast, many of them playing multiple roles, was quite good (high marks to Domenic Silipo, Margaret A. Flanagan, and Maryam Dalan) and Curtis Phillips's set realistically transformed the tiny NADA theatre into everything from an apartment to a strip joint to a pizza parlor. Additionally, the windows on the front of the theatre open onto Ludlow Street on Manhattan's Lower East Side, so while the show was taking place, there was often a car driving by or people walking past. While this would normally be a distraction, the presence of these unplanned visitors added to the texture of the piece.

The segments are strung together via the commentary of a radio disc jockey (the entire play takes place during his overnight shift on the air). But the DJ, like the audience, is the dispassionate observer, commenting on what is going on but never really touched by it.

Also featuring: David Lloyd Walters, Che' Malik Laviera, Mark Houghton, Beth Cash, David S. Valade, Leilani Dawson, John O' Leary, Antonio Oliveri, Collette Porteous. Lighting design by Marshall C. Wilson; sound, Christopher George Fernandez. Music: ``A Slice of the Apple'' by Domenic Silipo and Dennis DeMeo; vocals, Michael Lorenzo Jefferson.

Box Score:
Writing 1
Directing 1
Acting 1
Set 2
Costumes 1
Lighting/Sound 2
Copyright 1996 Judd Hollander

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