East Side Stories, Actually

Hannah Hakim, Alexander M. Cole, Rhassan Oyasaba Manning in Tom Lavagnino's "I'm Waiting for My Man." Photo credit: Vadim Goldberg. openingnight.online
Hannah Hakim, Alexander M. Cole, Rhasaan Oyasaba Manning in Tom Lavagnino's "I'm Waiting for My Man." Photo credit: Vadim Goldberg.
Rating
4.6/5

East Sides Stories, Actually is a collection of five contemporary plays written by living artists, all with themes linking them to the Lower Eastside of NYC.  An open call to the Metropolitan Playhouse mail list, press list, playwright programs, and the New Play Exchange is put out. A crew of readers, including directors, actors, and affiliated artists, read submissions and make recommendations. Then the artistic director Alex Roe with the director makes the final selection. This production grouping is unique because all the plays are cleverly woven together by I’m Waiting for My Man by Tom Lavagnino. The other plays selected this year were The Plan by Bara SwainLenin in Love on the Lower by Jonathon Ward, Cooperative by Christian Missonak, and Additional Information Regarding the Odd Incident That Occurred in the 1st Ave L Station on Tuesday Night by Natalina Lopez.

Casey Killoran and Alexander M. Cole in Jonathan Ward's
Casey Killoran and Alexander M. Cole in Jonathan Ward’s “Lenin in Love on the Lower.” Photo: Vadim Goldberg. Photo credit: Metropolitan Playhouse.

The Metropolitan Playhouse transforms into the L station/Venus Records and a block in alphabet city with the help of the superb cast and Jacob Brown’s set design that transports us to various scenes in the neighborhood. We get to look in and eavesdrop on different conversations and decisions, from where to move your parent from a rent-controlled apartment when they can no longer live alone as in  Swain’s The Plan, to witnessing Kurt Cobain trying to ingest aspirin meant for flowers in Additional Information Regarding the Odd Incident That Occurred in the 1st Ave L Station on Tuesday Night by Lopez. Only in NYC.

Ryan Wright and Rebecca Ana Peña in Christian Missonak's
Ryan Wright and Rebecca Ana Peña in Christian Missonak’s “Cooperative.” Photo credit: Vadim Goldberg.

The production is a stroll down memory lane for those who grew up commuting the L train. Joan Porter as Marge in The Plan gives a poignant portrayal of the feisty parent who is not going out without a fight. Trying desperately to open her beer, her daughter Sandy (Casey Killoran) listens dutifully to her mother’s musings and reminds her, “I can actually hear you, mom.” We will all experience this, so take notes if you haven’t been here already.

Rhasaan Oyasaba Manning’s performance, a Yale Architecture graduate, is so convincing in his part as Elliot in I’m waiting for my Man, that he unnerves you and makes the audience back up in their chairs as if he will lunge at them. He hovers over Tad (Alexander M. Cole) in line waiting to get Lou Reed’s signature outside of Venus Records, and to Tad’s credit, he pretty much ignores Elliot’s advances, accusations, and just general personal space invasion. That’s a good suspension of disbelief and inserting the audience smack dab right in the middle.

As the play concludes with Additional Information Regarding the Odd Incident That Occurred in the 1st Ave L Station on Tuesday Night, written by Natalina Lopez, the audience is treated to seeing, one last time, select characters from the other plays as they enter, arriving on L trains as the stage morphs into a subway platform, and just like that this slice of life is all but gone.

Joan Porter and Casey Killoran in Bara Swain's
Joan Porter and Casey Killoran in Bara Swain’s “The Plan.” Photo credit: Vadim Goldenberg.
In East Sides Stories, Actually, At the Metropolitan Playhouse - Scenic painting by Lassen Paulk. Photo credit: Elizabeth Ann Foster.
Set design by Jacob Brown. Photo credit: Elizabeth Ann Foster.
East Sides Stories, Actually, At the Metropolitan Playhouse - Murals by Lassen Paulk transformed the theater into a station on the L line. Photo credit- Sora Vernikoff.
Jacob Brown transformed the theater into a station on the L line. Photo credit: Sora Vernikoff.

East Sides Stories, Actually

I’m Waiting For My Man by Tom Lavagnino

Additional Information Regarding the Odd Incident that occurred in the 1st Ave L Staton on Tuesday Night by Natalina Lopez

Cooperative by Christian Missonak

The Plan by Bara Swain

Lenin in Love on the Lower by Jonathon Ward

Alexander M. Cole (Tad- I’m Waiting/Matt- Lenin), Hannah Hakim (Rachel-Lenin/Shelly-Additional Information), Casey Killoran (Eugenia-Lenin/Sandy-The Plan), Rhasaan Oyasaba Manning (Elliot- I’m Waiting/Isaac-Cooperative), Ron Moreno (Vladimir/Cesar – Lenin/ Petro – Additional Information), Rebecca Ana Pena (Alej- Cooperative/Callie- Additional Information), Joan Porter (Marge – The Plan), Ryan Wright (Lucas-Cooperative/Johnny, Kurt- Additional Information).

Artistic director Alex Roe; direction by Rachael Langton; stage manager Madeleine Blossom; set design Jacob Brown; costume design Sabrinna Fabi; lighting design Nicholas Palatella; sound design Josh Samuels; assistant stage manager Abi Walls; electrician Noah Platte; scenic painting Lassen Paulk.

Metropolitan Playhouse 220A East Fourth Street NY NY 10009
$20 for general admission, $18 for students/seniors, and $10 for children 18 and under. www.metropolitanplayhouse.org/tickets or call 800 838 3006.
May 19 – May 29, 2022
Thursday – Saturday evenings at 8 pm; Sunday afternoons at 3 pm

OPENING NIGHT: Thursday, May 19 at 7:30 pm CLOSING: Sunday, May 29 at 3:00 pm

Run time 90 minutes with one 10-minute intermission.

This is the Metropolitan Playhouse Season 31 Awakening Fall 2022-Spring 2023

Memberships on sale for $100 include admission to all events, discounts for guests, repeat visits, and reserved seats:

The Sea Lady by Neith Boyce; She’s got Harlem on Her Mind, three one-act plays by Eulalie Spence; The Gentle People by Irwin Shaw, Plus Concerts and performances and new adventures in the virtual playhouse.

Readers may also enjoy our other theater reviews like Plaza Suite starring Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker,
Selected Shorts at Symphony Space, 7 Minutes at the Here Theater, and HELP at the Shed Theater.

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