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A CurtainUp Review
When I read that producing group The Talking Band asked designer Anna Kiraly to design a set, and then asked playwright Ellen Maddow to create a play inspired by that set I expected Flip Side to have an elaborate, or at least unique,set. But the the set the play was written around turns out to be a white cube, with interchangeable walls. With the addition of some video projections on those white walls, the cube and its parts become rooms, restaurants, doorways, or nothing at all. Interesting, but it's hardly what I'd consider inspiring.
Sometimes people are like advent calendars—full of little windows that just open and open. It surprises me every time.
Maddow has written a play involving two worlds: one, a group of characters inhabiting "Drizzle Plaza," a bleak and empty place, and "Waterfall," home to the Waterfall family consisting of a forcibly cheerful and active characters. All the characters are played by the same actors and the twoworlds collide through an online romance between the respective heads of household.
Flip Side has some lovely images, and the video design (also by Anna Kiraly) is quite evocative. But the play itself leaves much to be desired. With very little in the way of character or story to hold it together, the play just spins off into various flights of fancy, perhaps to make full use of Kiraly's video projections. The acting is more prosaic than the characters would suggest. Pehaps the actors wanted to inject some much-needed reality into the proceedings, but the colorless acting style merely serves to highlight the inherent lack of focus. The only one injecting some literal and figurative color into the proceedings is Sue Jean Kim, who plays Celeste and the vivacious Cherimoya Waterfall, a bubbly teenager who literally can't stop moving.
Overall there isn't much to make this a must see. The puppets consist of just two small dogs and don't contribute anything. The pace is slow, and the design seems too minimalist to build an entire play around —which is probably why the play itself seems bare and empty.
Written by Ellen Maddow
Directed by Paul Zimet
With: Will Badgett, David Brooks, John Hellweg, Sue Jean Kim, Heidi Schreck, and Tina Shepard
Set and Video Design: Anna Kiraly
Music: "Blue" Gene Tyranny
Costume Design: Kiki Smith
Lighting Design: Nan Zhang
Puppets: Ralph Lee
Running Time: 80 minutes with no intermission
The Connelly Theatre, 220 East 4th Street, 212-868-4444
Tuesday through Saturday at 8 pm, Sunday at 3 pm
September 26-October 19
Reviewed by Jenny Sandman based on October 4th performance
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In the Heights
Playbill 2007-08 Yearbook
Leonard Maltin's 2008 Movie Guide