This weekend, Everyday Inferno Theatre Company presented "If On A Winter’s Night…", an evening of one act plays to warm you with laughter and contemplation on a chilly New York night. Like the eponymous Italo Calvino novel to which the evening’s title refers, the collection of plays takes us in a number of fragmentary, often absurd, but ultimately thought-provoking and entertaining narratives. And while the quality of writing might not always have matched the celebrated Italian postmodernist, the evening of theatre was thoroughly entertaining.
The evening began with "People Will Talk About You Sometimes", written by Sarah Matusek and directed by Taylor Reynolds. Matusek takes on the difficult subject of suicide by fragmenting a traditional storyline into multiple competing narratives and dialogues in the story of four friends coming to terms with the death of Izzy (Charlene Brea-Gomez). Reynolds elucidates the central trope of the text with great skill, evoking a sense of chaos and confusion that emanates from the mind of both the bereaved and the suicidal. At times the chaos is a little overwhelming as movement, text, and visual elements seem in competition and assault the audience. However, the final moments of the short play, with balloons floating ethereally around a lost young girl who also seemed to float in her own blue halo, are quite magical.
Next up was "The Policy", written by A.C. DeLashmutt and directed by Katherine Sommer. The short play presented an absurd yet incredibly poignant proposition. Two insurance salesmen, Mr. Pickles (Finn Kilgore) and Mr. Lange (Artem Kreimer), pay a visit to young Jessie (Alexa Cappiello). Yet here is the twist: the insurance offered is not house or health but an insurance of the psyche. Who needs insurance of the psyche you ask? Well, as Pickles and Lange inform us, their policy is vital to anyone living in today’s society. What if you have a fight with your best friend and turn to eating your emotions? What if your boyfriend breaks up with you? Lange and Pickles will pick up the pieces. The absurd little play is filled with laughs, particularly through Kilgore’s pitch-perfect timing as the Lurch-like Pickles. It is an odd predicament the play presents yet it is ultimately a hilarious and deeply relatable one.
The final play for the night was G.D. Kimble’s "Jen Tries Vacation", directed by Anaïs Koivisto. Exploring issues of racism, gentrification, and America’s class system, Kimble uses a kind of magical realism to strike a New York nerve. A trendy young couple, Finn and Jen (Grace Painter and Mark Paul Schulz), find themselves lost in an unknown part of an unknown city in the quest for the latest hip eatery. The fact that the location is not mentioned is key, though it is perhaps most applicable to New York: they could be in Harlem, the Bronx, or virtually any part of Brooklyn – essentially any area of any American city on the verge of gentrification. They are confronted by an African-American homeless man, Reefer (Rodrikus Springfield). Yet something is amiss: Finn cannot understand Reefer when he departs from a stereotypical African-American vernacular and suddenly transforms into the caricature of an English explorer. The play that ensues speaks volumes about the endurance of (white) colonial values, the process of gentrification, and the ever-growing number of disenfranchised victims overtaken by the endless pursuit of wealth.
Overall, "If On A Winter’s Night…" was an entertaining and enjoyable evening put on by some fresh talent and an eager young theatre company.
Performances of "If On A Winter's Night..." have concluded, but Everyday Inferno Theatre Company will have new shows in the new year. Check out their website for more information: www.everydayinferno.com/