The Theater for The New City presented it’s street fair (they perform several times a summer in different Boroughs). In it’s beginnings as in now, New City wanted to give both free theater throughout the city and at the same time wants to promote both their in house festival which has been going on for the last two months. The Theater for The New City’s mission statement id to provide radical theater as well as new works from new artists. At times, this theater can be hit or miss. It is difficult having a consistent new works that are really good. As far as radical theater, it pales from the radicals in the 80’s with the no nuke plays in the East Village. This year at the theater it was mostly #metoo, LGBTQ movement plays and in equality in pay and some climate change plays. The Festival, however, is different, it gives authors leeway to put forth one acts, two acts or any kind of set up the author wishes. The rates at the New City are encouraging for these aspiring playwrights.
“Shame” was put on today at St Marks Church in the East Village. Set outside of the Church replete with a band to accompany the musical behind the audience, the musical works well in confined quarters. Walter Gurbo did a remarkable job with the flats & set pieces. The limited space and stage made it quite the challenge for Gurbo to maneuver the different sets that were all funny as they were paradoxical. The costume designs by Susan Hemley ,Desire Conston Laura Ryan and Violeta Hernandez ranged from elegant to the ridiculous. Between the costumes, the props(Lytza Colon) and the sets, it all correlates nicely with the music, which was written by Crystal Field), she also did the book as well.
The musical, which is silly to begin with, starts out with a High School Physics teacher who’s students absolutely love him and his class. He says he has the dream job of his life teaching what he loves. He stresses over and over that it is all relative. Life is relative, happiness, sadness and on and on. He goes on to talk about the school down the road, Newtown High School. He talks about the shootings and what it did to his class and his psyche to teach. He says to the audience that he became irrelevant, that the kids were asking him more about bullets then physics. The teacher starts to go into a depression as he loses his love to teach.
“Shame-or The Doomsday Machine” is a musical much like “Newsical”. It focuses on current events and what happened in the last year. Newtown was several years ago but gun control is still a big issue in this country. The musical does not go over the top with it but the effects and the direction by Fields makes you feel her emotion and the effect is there. Newtown was a deeply emotional heart wrenching event in our country. The debate on gun control marched on and we still debate it today.
The next part of the musical focused on immigration. The women who played Melania Trump looked more like Maxine Waters, but she was funny regardless. Melania was replete with the green jacket and she meets Stormy Daniels, a man in drag. The president comes to the fore front with an orange wig and he’s smoosing both ladies. The actor who plays the president was not that good, he did not have his mannerisms, his actions or his speech pattern down. This part of the parody is both a little to campy and it goes to low in it’s parody. This part of the play tries way to hard for laughs. It would have been better if field put up the characters and let them work it.
The third set was in hell. This was a very funny skit. It is about two gate keepers and a women who stands and mocks them both. The gate keepers are buffoons and do not know what they are doing. When they bring a women up front iron chains, she is the women who sings it is my body and I am a women who chooses. This is a women who does not belong in hell, she is pro abortion and she worries about the Supreme Court and what will happen with Roe v Wade. In hell is also some businessmen, a couple of club owners, the president a few other people who we do not know much about them but they are hilarious. The best part of the show is the businessman dressed in tuxedos with dollar signs on there top hats and lapels. The singing and dancing as well as the song money was the hit of the afternoon.
The last skit was the protesting aspect of things. It protested immigration, police brutality. the president, taxes on the poor; not the rich. Very little on climate change but a lot on gun control. We meet Albert Einstein who tells us the relativity to life is love and we need to love one another. He sings that love is the only solution, that he was an immigrant himself, that he was persecuted in Germany over his religion. He tells us that he went through what a lot of people today are going through. The show is finished off with the many ensemble dancers singing and dancing much like they did at the opening.
Although most of the acting was fair at best, the direction and the sets made this a fun show. I took the political hub bub lightly, as it is a parody. Although it dealt with many issues in the paper today, it was very light hearted and made it enjoyable for all people across all political spectrums. This show today played in the East Village, but it performs in all five boroughs and the musical did not want to offend anyone, but rather, it was light and funny.
“Shame” is a show you should see. It is an hour long and has some good songs, some good dancing and acting. If you like spoof and campy this is your kind of show.