Tuesday, October 29, 2019

BETWEEN RIVERSIDE AND CRAZY - (Fountain Theatre) Review

Author Stephen Adly-Guirgis happens to be my favorite American playwright ever since I saw his “Last Days of Judas Iscariot” followed by other works. So, don’t miss it! In this Pulitzer-Prize-winning comedy, an elderly ex-cop in New York City, recently widowed, is facing eviction from his large rent-controlled apartment on Riverside Drive. 

He wants to make a home there for his newly-paroled son, but the landlord wants him out, the NYPD want to close a lawsuit, and the church is on his back. The Pulitzer committee called it, “a nuanced, beautifully written play… that uses dark comedy to confront questions of life and death.’ Director Guillermo Cienfuegos, another theatre favorite, warns that “The play explores issues of race, policing and gentrification…” subjects that are always potent in contemporary-realist Guirgis’ work. At the Fountain Theatre, 5060 Fountain Ave (nr Normandie), in Hollywood. Tickets: (323) 663-1525 or www.FountainTheatre.com

REVIEW/COMMENT: As always, Guirgis creates a world as real as the one we inhabit ourselves and, just as our clever minds have figured out where he is going with his story, he surprises us with a revelation about human relationships that shocks us even as we recognize that this is the way life is.  
In this play, all relationships, whether the obviously loving or perhaps the unconsciously disdainful, are suspect. All great drama gives us a deeper understanding of who we are and yet reveals how blissfully fragile the truth always is. I always look for this “Revelation” in modern theater, and rarely find it, but Guirgis again comes through in this honest family drama.

With brilliant direction by Guillermo Cienfuegos, the superb cast is headed by Montae Russell, enigmatic and yet straightforward, as the beleaguered retired cop everyone calls Pops. Matthew Hancock as his rebellious son, and Victor Anthony his quixotic ward, both personify today's troubled youth searching for meaning. Joshua Bitton as an ambitious yet honest cop, and Lesley Fera as Pops loyal former partner, bring the outer world and its brutal realities into this sheltered home. Liza Fernandez is licentiously daring as a church lady on a mission, and Marisol Miranda is delightful as a seemingly tempestuous temptress. MMM 

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