By Tulis McCall
T. Oliver Reid; Photo by Carol Rosegg
Those of you looking for a place to go to focus on the single elegant voice, look no further. Inner Voices, the biannual series of solo works featuring new teams of playwrights and composers is your destination. Hot foot it over there to see people with skill and knowledge and substance.
Each piece is about 30 minutes long – and that is roughly 10 minutes too long for each of them. T. Oliver Reid
tells the story of an orderly in a nursing home who wants to free up the souls that are hiding there. Once the premise is established the story stays mushy and neutral It is no match for his exquisite voice. As well, he is forced into some fairly hokey and stereotyping speech. He is the do-gooder without a mean bone in his body. And the people in his care just need to polish up their halos a bit. No matter. Reid’s singing never falters. It is superb.
Next up is The Pen
with Nancy Anderson
as a woman with OCD. Not a light hearted topic for a musical, but this production makes the most of what it has. Laura seems to have two kinds of OCD – one is the list variety – cannot leave home without checking the faucet, the over, the TV cord or else you have to start all over. The other and more overwhelming is her germ phobia. When she finds a purple pen in her purse she becomes unhinged. How did it get there? How often has she touched it. How often has it touched everything else in her purse. And this leads us to her examining how her phobia has overtaken her life and prevents her from getting to work on time (or at all) and stops her from engaging with anyone who might appear normal. This little jewel is smart and fast paced and Anderson is exquisite – ethereal, actually.
Finally there is The Booty Call about Gabe (Michael Thurber) a 20-something guy being pursued by love and not wanting to dip his toes into the water again. He has been burned and his heart is hurting. This show brings to mind The Encounter now on Broadway because it is as much a master class in sound effects as it is a story. Actually this one is more compelling (and I cannot help but think there is an enormous nod to Lin-Manuel Miranda here) because this is a guy musing with his muse. Making noise and funk and music is his solace. Thurber is a pleasure to watch as he wanders the stage and seems to make things up as he goes along. He makes it look easy when you know it is not.
Michael Thurber; Photo by Carol Rosegg
This Festival is long on talent – and special thanks to the musicians: Mary Ann McSweeny, Harry Hassell, Tom Monkell, Dan Erben – none of who have bios in the program – for their elegant work. They would make a hedgehog shine. In this case they only make these talented people even better.
A joyful noise all around. Even if they are too long.
Just One “Q” with Benny (T. Oliver Reid) Words by Ellen Fitzhugh, music by Ted Shen with musical direction by Andrew Resnick. Directed by Brad Rouse.
The Pen,with Nancy Anderson (Laura), Words by Dan Collins, music by Julianne Wick Davis with musical direction by Alexander Rovang. Directed by Margot Bordelon.
The Booty Call with Michael Thurber Words by Saheem Ali, music and words by Michael Thurber. Mr. Saheem directs.
The design team of Inner Voices is comprised of: Reid Thompson (sets) M. Meriwether Snipes (costumes), Oliver Watson (lighting), and Walter Trarbach (sound). Aaron Gonzalez is Production Stage Manager and John Michael Crotty is Assistant Stage Manager.
TBG Theatre, 312 W 36th Street. Running time: 2hrs 10mins. One intermission. Through Oct 29. Click here
for full ticket and venue information.