Time of the Artist

Time It Is

By Lissa Moira
Directed by Lissa Moira
Theatre for the New City
155 First Avenue (245-1109)
Equity showcase (closes Jan. 31)
Review by Andrès J. Wrath

Plays about art tend to break down into two categories: art as a commodity and the artist as a tormented soul. Lissa Moira's Time It Is explores both, with more success in the former category.

Act One begins with Johnny (beautifully played by Richard O'Brien) wanting his lover Alizia (Lissa Moira) to move in with him. Johnny is successful and living in Chelsea; Alizia is a tormented artist living the bohemian life style on Ludlow Street. The act closes with Alizia deciding to move in. Act Two starts off with the couple now living in Chelsea. She has become uncomfortable with her growing success: Robert Redford has bought one of her paintings, which sends her career into superstar status. By the end of that act, she decides to go back to Ludlow Street. Act Three, the best act, is a scathing commentary on the art world, whose inhabitants will do anything (sex, drugs, power) to get ahead.

In the first two acts, Ms. Moira's play explores Alizia's torment with so much over-articulation that there is little left to Alizia to become intrigued by. For example, there is a lengthy monologue in which her torrent is the main focus and goes on too long. In Act Three, however, the play becomes a sharply focused character study of the inhabitants of the art world. For long-winded passages she substitutes witty repartee, and the show picks up pace.

In a striking performance as Alizia, the radiant Ms. Moira found and communicated Alizia's pain effortlessly. She was also aided by a top-notch supporting cast, which included Billy Cobb, Dennis Horvitz, Valdet Bajraktari, and Jill Anne Smith. A special mention goes to the work of Martina Lotun, Rey Howard, and George Roberson, who turned the term over-the-top into an art form.

Ms. Moira's directing was both lucid and magical. Her actors moved about the stage with clear intentions and fluidity. However, the lighting (which was warm and inviting) by Israel Cruz tended to go wacky, with lights turning on and off all over the stage without logical reasoning. The set, also by Mr. Cruz, was fun, but nothing more than serviceable. The evening ran too long and was really two plays in one, but Time It Is has some striking characterizations and enough arresting ideas to sustain interest even with the over-written passages of the first two acts.

Box Score:

Writing: 1
Directing: 2
Acting: 2
Set: 1
Costumes: 1
Lighting/Sound: 1

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Copyright 1999 Andrès J. Wrath