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Signature Play is playing at The Pershing Square Signature Theatre located at 480 West 42nd street. The plays run two hours with two intermissions. It closes on June 19, 2016.
The three plays are The Sandbox by Edward Albee, Drowning by Maria Irene Fornes and Funnyhouse of a Negro by Adrienne Kennedy’s.
Sandbox was written in 1958 and is fifteen minutes. It was first performed on April 15, 1960 in the Jazz Gallery in New York City and at the Signature Theatre in 1962. Edward Albee was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for Drama for The Play About the Baby (2001), The Goat or Who is Sylvia? (2003). Edward won the Pulitzer for Drama for The Zoo Story (1960), A Delicate Balance (1967), Seascape (1975), Three Tall Women (1994). He was nominated for six Tony Awards for Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (2005), Seascape (1975), A Delicate Balance (1967), Tiny Alice (best play and best author 1965) and The Ballad of the Sad Café). Edward won two Tony Awards for The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? (2002) and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1963)
Drowning was written in 1986. Maria Irene Fornes won nine Obie’s starting from 1965 for Promenade and The Successful Life of 3 to 2000 Letters from Cuba
Funnyhouse is a one act play. It won an Obie Award for distinguished play in 1964. It played at the Signature Theatre in 1995. Adrienne Kennedy won two other Obie’s for June and Jean in Concert and Sleep Deprivation Chamber (1996) .
Sahr Ngaujah was nominated for a Tony Award in 2008 for Fela.
Frank Wood won a Tony for Sideman (1999).
Alison Fraser for Two Tony Awards for The Secret Garden (1991) and Romance/Romance (1988).
The Sandbox takes place on a beach. The Young Man (Ryan-James Hatanaka) is in a bathing suit, raising his hands up and down. You can see he works out. Mommy (Aliso Fraser) and Daddy (Frank Wood) arrive at the beach. Mommy is sarcastic to Daddy. Mommy tells the cello player (Melody Giron) to come on the beach and play. She then tells Daddy to bring Grandma (Phyllis Somerville) on the beach. He plops her in the hot sandbox while they set on chase lounges.
The Young Man smiles and says hello. Grandma tells him about herself.
Things happen in the end but I’m not telling.
Drowning takes place in a room. Two men with rubber on their heads, you can see their face are talking. Pea (Mikeah Ernest Jennings) is explaining to Roe (Sahr Ngajuah) about the paper in front of them. Pea explains what the pictures are. Peas friend Steven(Frank Wood) comes later.
Funnyhouse of a Negro has various characters on the stage at different times. A woman (Crystal Dickinson) walks the stage in her night gown. Her right arm is stretched out. In another scene she is in the middle of the wall again in her night gown but this time she is carrying a skull.
Sarah (Crystal Dickinson) lives on the upper west side with Raymond (Nicholas Bruder). She is black and he is white. They have a statue of Queen Victoria in their apartment.
The different character are Queen Victoria (April Matthis), Duchess of Hapsburg (January LaVoy), Patrice Lumumba (Sahr Ngaujah) and Jesus (Mikeah Ernest Jennings). Each character is Sarah feelings about her parents. Her mother is white, her father is black. Each time the mother is good her father bad. But all things are hostile. Everyone is losing their hair.
Sarah’s landlady (Alison Fraiser) tells her version of the events. Even Raymond has a say at the end on what is what.
One thing is for sure. Sarah is one messed up women, who hate’s her father.
The sandbox was quirky but cute.
Drowning, I have no idea what was going on. Were they fish?
Funnyhouse of a Negro is just too confusing. There are too many characters and elements. You really have to think deeply to figure out what is going on.
In between the first and second play a man (Nichols Bruder) comes up to the stage and puts down a radio. A sign is put up saying a nine minute pause. The man switches the stations, grooving to the music. The last stations have sounds not music.
Review by Rozanna Radakovich.
Photos by Annazor.
To read a candid interview with the cast, scroll down to the left for recent photos. Click on recent photos for this and other shows.