Monday, August 15, 2016

Off-Broadway Theater Review: Implications of Cohabitation

Connie Saltzman, Andres de Vengoechea, Gladys Perez, Vanessa Verduga. Poto: Michael Blase
New Theater Group Features Work by Promising Playwright
By Lauren Yarger
Summer is a great time to find some gems Off-Broadway that might get overlooked in the crush of the regular Broadway season. Vanessa Verduga’s Implications of Cohabitation, getting a run at Theatre Row by Sudacas Theater, a new Latino-American company, is a recent find. With tickets at just $20.25, you’re not likely to find a bigger bang for your buck in New York.

The multi-talented Verduga (she’s a lawyer who among other things created the popular digital series and comic book “Justice Woman” and is recording her first solo urban Latino album called “Soy Mujer” -- “I am Woman”) creates interesting characters and thought-provoking situations, directed here by Leni Mendez.

Siblings Jenny (Connie Saltzman) and Kevin (Andres de Vengochea) are a bit surprised when their father, Nelson (Anthony Ruiz) turns their mother’s memorial service into a family reunion of sorts by inviting their half sister, Sara (Verduga, showing that multiple-talented thing again, plays this role in her play). Nelson had left their mother for a waitress in the Ecuadorian restaurant where they meet and the two families have never been close. Sara’s mother, Carmen (a solid Adriana Sananes) – loathingly referred to by Kevin and Jenny as their father’s baby mama -- also was abandoned by Nelson, when he left her to go back to his first wife.

Nelson compounds the awkwardness in the air by announcing that he plans to sell his home and move in with each his children to get to know them better. This, to put it mildly, doesn’t go over well with the kids. Kevin, an actor, and Jenny, a musician, feel their father doesn’t understand them and they are sure they can never measure up against Sara’s successful career as a lawyer.

Besides, there is some other cohabitation going on. The kids have things in their private lives that make it difficult to have a father move in: Sara lives with her fiancé, Ben, and has an ex, Jake (James Padric), who complicates things. Jenny enjoys taking hits off of her bong while composing and Kevin has a sexual partner who drops in behind the back of his live-in girlfriend, Amy.

Rejected from each of his children’s households, Nelson finds himself chatting on a park bench with a homeless man (David Pendleton) who offers some wisdom and advice.

Though the script needs an edit and some of the action in the 100 minutes with intermission could be tightened (one scene played like two actors groping for their lines), the characters are engaging and likable. They deal with real emotions and we can relate to most of what they experience (even annoyance with an overly enthusiastic waitress played by Gladys Perez).

When Carmen helps her daughter put on her wedding dress and tries to console Sara when she thinks her father won’t show up to give her away, we’re looking at real life, not just a drama at Theatre Row. I am looking forward to more from this theater company and this playwright is in my radar.

Implication of Cohabitation plays at the Clurman Theatre, 410 West 42nd St. NYC (Theatre Row) through Aug. 26. Performances are Thursday through Saturday at 8 pm; Aug. 17 at 2 pm. Tickets: $20.25; (212) 239-6200; ImplicationsOfCohabitation.com

Credits:

By Vanessa Verduga; Directed by Leni Mendez, Assistant Direction by Joseph Barone, Scenic Design by Anna Grigo, Costume Design by Steven Daniel, Lighting Design by Jackson Miller, Sound Design by Lawrence Schober; Properties by Emilie A. Grossman.

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Our reviews are professional reviews written without a religious bias. At the end of them, you can find a listing of language, content or theological issues that Christians might want to know about when deciding which shows to see.

** Mature indicates that the show has posted an advisory because of content. Usually this means I would recommend no one under the age of 16 attend.

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

My Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the 2000 Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

She was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater (the only ones you can find in the US with an added Christian perspective) at http://reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com/.

She is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection (http://ctarts.blogspot.com), an award-winning website featuring theater and arts news for the state. She is a contributing editor for BroadwayWorld.com and is a theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer. She previously served as Connecticut theater editor for CurtainUp.com and as Connecticut and New York reviewer for American Theater Web.

Yarger is a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly and freelances for other sites. She is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

She is a freelance writer and playwright and member of The Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association and The League of Professional Theatre Women. She served as a judge for the SDX Awards presented by the Society of Professional Journalists. She also is a member of the Connecticut Critics Circle and the CT Press Club.

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger also worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and served for nine years as the Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. She lives with her husband in West Granby, CT. They have two adult children.

Copyright

All material is copyright 2008- 2017 by Lauren Yarger. Reviews and articles may not be reprinted without permission. Contact reflectionsinthelight@gmail.com

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Key to Content Notes:

God's name taken in vain -- means God or Jesus is used in dialogue without speaking directly to or about them.

Language -- means some curse words are used. "Minor" usually means the words are not too strong or that it only occurs once or twice throughout the show.

Strong Language -- means some of the more heavy duty curse words are used.

Nudity -- means a man or woman's backside, a man's lower front or a woman's front are revealed.

Scantily clad -- means actors' private areas are technically covered, but I can see a lot of them.

Sexual Language -- means the dialogue contains sexually explicit language but there's no action.

Sexual Activity -- means a man and woman are performing sexual acts.

Adultery -- Means a married man or woman is involved sexually with someone besides their spouse. If this is depicted with sexual acts on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Sex Outside of Marriage -- means a man and woman are involved sexually without being married. If this is depicted sexually on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Homosexuality -- means this is in the show, but not physically depicted.

Homosexual activity -- means two persons of the same sex are embracing/kissing. If they do more than that, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Cross Dresser -- Means someone is dressing as the opposite sex. If they do more than that on stage the listing would include the corresponding "sexual activity" and/or "homosexual activity" as well.

Cross Gender -- A man is playing a female part or a woman is playing a man's part.

Suggestive Dancing -- means dancing contains sexually suggestive moves.

Derogatory (category added Fall 2012) Language or circumstances where women are referred to or treated in a negative and demeaning manner.

Other content matters such as torture, suicide or rape will be noted, with details revealed only as necessary in the review itself.

The term "throughout" added to any of the above means it happens many times throughout the show.

Reviewing Policy

I receive free seats to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows made available to all voting members of the Outer Critics Circle and The Drama Desk, the two professional critics organizations with journalists covering NY theater. Journalistically, I provide an unbiased review and am under no obligation to make positive statements. Sometimes shows do not make tickets available to reviewers. If these are shows my readers want to know about (I review all Broadway shows and pertinent Off-Broadway shows), I will purchase a ticket. If a personal friend is involved in a production, I'll let you know, but it won't influence a review. If I feel there is a conflict, I won't review their portion of the production.

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