Brooklyn Babylon

Getting Off in Brooklyn

Ryan Repertory Company
Jonathan Rosenblum Performing Arts Space in the Harry Warren Theatre
Non-union Production (closed)
Review by Byrne Harrison

Getting Off in Brooklyn is an evening of one-act plays all revolving around the topic of sex.  While the show featured an attractive and amusing cast of actors and good direction (Marie Ingrisano), the plays themselves tended not to live up to their potential.

The first show of the evening was the strongest, both in terms of the acting and the script.  Written and performed by Dana A. Iannuzzi, My First Time? chronicled the loss of her virginity . . . all three times.  With a self-deprecating shrug and a stand-up’s timing, Iannuzzi told her story in a wry and amusing way that kept the audience fully engaged.  She even went so far as to include a little audience participation – inviting a fellow from the first row, who coincidentally happened to take his seat after the show started, to join her onstage to demonstrate proper condom technique.  This should be a warning to all latecomers; actors notice.

The next play, also a solo piece, was It’s a . . . Baby?, written and performed by Cara Restaino.  Restaino is an expressive comedian, using large gestures, mimicry and solid comic timing to deliver the laughs.  Unfortunately her piece, which dealt with the chaos caused when her sister had her first baby – without realizing she was pregnant – was simply too long.  While the impersonations of Restaino’s family and the amazing situation were amusing, a little judicious editing would have made this a more satisfying work.

The third play, Phil HaasThe XYZ of It, suffered from the opposite problem; it needed a bit more time to be fully developed.  It had an interesting and ‘ripped from the headline’ premise: a pretty, young teacher using one of her students to get rid of her ex.  Evelyn Trainer (Alyssa H. Chase) is a teacher who was the victim of violence at her boyfriend’s hand.  Ben Mayer (Paul Ingrisano) is a popular, but simple, student in her class.  After asking him to stay late, Evelyn gets him to admit an attraction to her and, in short order, seduces him into threatening to kill her ex-lover, another teacher at the school.  While it’s easy to believe a scenario like this, it was inconceivable that it could happen in such a short amount of time, even though Chase’s Evelyn is a charming manipulator and Ingrisano’s Paul is sex-addled and naïve.

The second half of the evening was filled almost to bursting by Johnmichael Rossi’s The Orgasm Play.  This long one-act follows the post-vacation turmoil of roommates Joe (Jason Brian Kalter), Steve (Zachary Einstein), Tom (Paul Ingrisano), and Megan (Casandera M.J. Lollar), specifically the fallout caused by a night of forbidden sex between Joe and the orgasmically-challenged Megan, while her boyfriend was away.  The Orgasm Play has a sitcom style and sensibility that would have been better served if it had also had a sitcom’s time-frame, 25-30 minutes.  This would have forced Rossi to tighten his dialogue, cut out some of the extraneous scenes and characters, and would have led to a tighter and more satisfying play.  Despite this, the play was quite funny, due in no small part to Lollar and Kalter, both of whom were very amusing actors.  The Orgasm Play also featured Sam Bailer and Billy Baraw.

Production values were quite good.  The set (Marie and Vincent Ingrisano) was well-designed and utilized, especially in The Orgasm Play which made use of two levels.  Lighting design (Barbara Parisi and Vincent Ingrisano) was generally good, though the abrupt light changes in It’s a . . . Baby? were a bit intrusive.  Costume (Marie and Vincent Ingrisano) and sound (Zachary Einstein) were well-done.

While this production had its ups and downs, it highlighted several of the strengths of the Ryan Repertory Company – good direction, able technical design, and talented actors.

Box Score:

Writing: 1
Directing: 1
Acting: 1
Set: 1
Costumes: 1
Lighting/Sound: 1

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Copyright 2006 Byrne Harrison