Off Broadway (and sometimes Broadway) Reviews and Information.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Innocence Charms of The Wundelsteipen

The second of The Flea’s trio of new plays is The Wundelsteipen, by Nick Jones.  The full title is actually The Wundelsteipen (and Other Difficult Roles For Young People) and refers to setup for the show.  The piece is a number of short plays, as performed by young people at acting summer camp.  It is a device that allows any number of inappropriate choices to be made, and they all seem to work.  Having “young people” create these characters brings them to life with less self-conciseness than an “adult” would bring.  An adult couldn’t very well come into a story about why God would bring a baby to Heaven, and treat it as a comedy.  And, having The Bats (the Flea’s resident players) play “children” allows the audience to laugh the actors in a way that we could not, if they were actually youngsters.
The seven mini-plays range from pitch perfect (and entirely inappropriate) to just okay, but the actors to a great job with all of them.
Briana Pozner (the Wundelsteipen herself) and Alex Herrald

My favorite of the various plays, in both writing and acting, was Alex Herrald and Tommy Crawford in The Wundelsteipen.  In this piece two brothers, hip deep in puberty and internet porn, make a wish and are rewarded with a visit from the sex fairy.  But the sex-fairy has changed a lot in an age where Playboy magazine is quaint and would hardly be rated PG-13.  Briana Pozner is a fairy, who’s payment for wishes has changed with the times.  It is inappropriate on a million levels, and hilarious.
Tommy Crawford (standing) and
Dominic Spillane (Caligula - in repose)
Tommy Crawford played a slave opposite Dominic Spillane as Caligula in Caligula In The Morning.  It was all about the trials and tribulations of trying to wake up an Emperor that just doesn’t want to get out of bed.  It is an aspect of Caligula that only a young person would be fascinated by.  It was great.
The direction, by Tom Costello, kept the cast and audience in the moment excellently.  The show never grew past the idea of a bunch of young people putting this together, and it wouldn’t have worked if it did.
All of the players participated in the story Everybaby – the story of a young baby summoned by God to Heaven to atone for his sins.  The child (played with wide eyed innocence by Donaldo Prescod) doesn’t understand the idea of original sin, or why he can’t get his playmates to go with him.  Everybaby is a perfect example of a story that reads differently when played by children, rather than adults -  where someone might have really lost a child.
Not all the pieces worked for me.  College Romance and Salome both seemed like SNL sketches that went on too long.  But the others were very good.  The Wundelsteipen … was a very funny time at the Flea.


The Wundelsteipen (and Other Difficult Roles for Young People) @ The Flea Theater
Playwright: Nick Jones
Director: Tom Costello
Cast: Maren Langdon, Donaldo Prescod, Dominic Spillane, Tommy Crawford, Hannah Corrigan, Eric Folks, Alex Herrald, Briana Pozner

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