same planet, different worlds

I feel like recently I have been seeing a lot of shows that take on the same things in different ways with vastly different results. For instance the whole Irish/devil/fate/sin/etc. thing – there was the astonishingly mediocre and unimaginative Seafarer on Broadway, then there was the wonderfully simple, effective and well-written Terminus at Under the Radar. There was the aggressively avant-garde, hi-tech and partially successful staging of Moliere’s Misanthrope by Ivo Van Hove at NYTW and there is the decidedly low-tech but extremely intelligent and eminently enjoyable staging of Moliere’s Don Juan by NTUSA. I’m sure if I went back through the season I could find plenty more where that came from.

Which leads me to my most recent compare/contrast:

Let’s say you’re a thirtysomething NYC-based artist who has been somewhat itinerant. You’ve lived a bunch of places in the city, your life isn’t quite as settled as you had hoped it would be, you’re concerned about the city, about gentrification, about how to plan a stable life when the future seems so uncertain. You’re concerned about how that lack of stability affects your interpersonal and romantic relationships, you want to be hopeful, political, conscientious and meaningful but the day-to-day challenges of just getting by consistently overwhelm your ideals. And you want to make all that into theater. Its quite a challenge, yes?

There are plenty of directions you could take this. One person might write a straightforward situation comedy and have it produced at a theater in Manhattan. I recently saw a play like that.

OR you could make an amazing, moving, insightful, imaginative, unexpected, touching and special theatrical experience that takes place in over twenty apartments in all five boroughs. I just saw something like that too.

Guess which I thought was better?

The Foundry Theater’s production of Aaron Landsman’s Open House is still in previews so, technically I can’t review it. I shouldn’t review it. But once again, I feel compelled to urge you to buy your tickets now. Especially because due to the nature of the event, seating will be extremely limited.  Seriously. It just totally captures what its like – for a certain group of people – to be trying to live in NYC right now, while still touching on the larger issues of gentrification, the environment, crime, etc. etc. It is really fantastic. Do NOT miss it!!

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