Monday, May 28, 2007

"On The Verge" - Edgy Explorers: Women on the Eclectic Move

First: Locate WOW Cafe Theatre in the East Village. The trip is worth it> You will discover four vigorous, animated actors who spark and sparkle with a vigorous rendering of "On the Verge," by Eric Overmyer. The script, itself, fully cranks it up during the second act. The performers, however, get it right ( with enthusiasm, eccentricity, energy) from the outset.

It is 1899 and three intrepid Victorian women (explorers by trade) peer into the future. What's ahead? Terra Incognita. And Ike Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, newfangled TV, the Jacuzzi...... Wrestling with and conquering Overmyer's tricky, atypical dialogue, actors Nina Morrison as Alexandra, Johanna Weller-Fahy playing Fanny, and Julie Baber cast as Mary hit the boards with great zest and more than a fair measure of skill. This isn't an easy play. These women are on the march, they're bold, delightful, and comic. According to script, they traverse time, space, and the unknown. They smile rather easily and this is most helpful.

There's a man, too, here. Actor Cliff Campbell, taking on various roles, is delectably versatile and successful. He sings in a nightclub; he is a married man; he is an adolescent during the golden 1950s. And so on.

The play, a delight for any wordsmith, hits its stride after intermission. During the first portion, we hear about the dirigible, eggbeater, cheese and so forth. The women, individually and collectively, are excellent. Where, though, is this all headed?

Morrison, so intuitively physical and splendid with facial gesture, catapults the action forward with musical contributions.

It requires navigation of four flights of stairs to reach this production of "On the Verge." Not so curiously, the trek fits in with the theme of the play. To experience the show, one must sacrifice. BYO water bottle, I was soundly advised -- all to the good.

Portia Krieger, directing, deserves more than a few affirmative nods. "On the Verge" requires specificity in terms of actor movement. Krieger provides that while allowing each performer the freedom to create. Costumer Denise Malroney furnishes period outfits. The smart wardrobe is terrific but, one would imagine, a bit on the humid side for the actors.

In all, "On the Verge," provided by WOW (Women's One World) Cafe, is pretty nifty.

Tickets at $15 each: (212) 777-4280 ; or email:
Performances: May 31, June 2, 7, and 8 all at 8:00 p.m.
WOW Cafe Theatre: 59 East 4th Street between 2nd Avenue and the Bowery.


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