by Ilaria Cutolo
Here I Fall Up written and produced by Beth Golison and starring Sophia Drapeau, Rose Tablizo, Samantha Medina Chachra, Lauren Rose Quigley, and Gianna Milci is about a young woman with mental illness who meets what we learn mid-way through to be a ghost or simply a figment of the protagonist’s imagination and the aftermath of this relationship. I know this because that is what the program tells me.
The main character (Sophia Drapeau), who’s struggling with something, abandons her sisters to stay in an old house and tell stories to the walls. She meets a friend (Rose Tablizo), who sneaks there to smoke, and quickly falls in love. Almost as quickly she kicks the friend out and becomes obsessed with a ghost in the abandoned house. She believes the ghost is real and refuses to leave. Her sisters (Chachra, Quigley, and Milci) think she has gone mad. She almost dies because she is obsessed with the ghost and there’s something about dirt, and then something about swimming and bad lungs… I became confused as I tried to find any trace of a cohesive plot.
The actors gave heartfelt performances, but it felt forced at moments like someone was forcing a message down my throat. What the message was, I’m not sure.
The music felt like a folksy attempt at the Disney princess trope but without the songwriting chops or the princesses. I was waiting for the big number swell that never came and was left feeling, well, a little gypped.
Another issue I had is that the age of the characters was unclear. Were they children, teenagers, or young adults? There were moments when I thought I was looking at actors playing children and then suddenly someone would throw out a strongly heated line infused with cursing. There was no clear reference except for the child-like songs with phrases such as, “The best thing ever” repeated so many times that I began to laugh at the absurdity of it, yet, I knew it wasn’t meant to be absurd. When was this song going to be over, I kept thinking. That would be the best thing ever.
The performers had strong, gorgeous voices, but they were not supported with the most appealing of melodies. The musicians were solid and provided an ethereal folksy vibe, but the monotonous elementary melodies and lyrics flooding the stage made me wonder if I was hearing what everyone else was hearing. Lines felt recited and chanted, like an improvised expository sing-song recitation. It’s as if a script was handed to a 9-year-old and someone said “Here, sing these lines.”
During the final scene, there was a lot of smearing of dirt and mud on our protagonist. A kind of ritual cleansing, rebirthing I believe. The ivory fabrics strewn across the stage were manipulated to appear like water, wind, and shadows. It was effective yet sometimes overdone.
This is the kind of play you would find at a liberal college, and that would be cool, except that this is performing at the New Ohio Theatre in New York City. I believe this was “a good college try” as they say.
I think an opportunity was missed here to turn this into a comedy. It had the freshman-year college granola, an attempt at a feminist message, a dash of witchcraft, and teenagers frolicking in the forest singing and swaying. All the ingredients were there for a parody, yet, no.
Had a group of Disney Princesses gotten together, ate mushrooms, and spent days on a spiritual quest in a forest in solidarity with all princesses across the universe – that is a show I would pay for. Ah, but that’s just wishful thinking on my part.
WITH: Sophia Drapeau, Samantha Medina Chachra, Lauren Rose Quigley, Gianna Milci, and Rose Tablizo.Stage Management: Grace Zofia Alberti (any pronouns) Set Design: Jessie Baldinger (she/her)Costume Design: Max Han (he/him)Lighting Design: Chris Voegels (he/him) Drums/Percussion/Keyboard: Kyle Brenn (he/him) Guitars: Tia Dizon (she/her)Bass/ 12-String Guitar: Lotus Rogers (they/them or ze/zir) Cello: Samantha Medina Chachra (she/her)Sound Engineer: Julian Moller (any pronouns)
The Obie Award-winning New Ohio Theatre has announced that it will conclude its acclaimed 30-year run with the last ever Ice Factory Festival, featuring Artistic Director Robert Lyons’ ULTRA LEFT VIOLENCE as the final show. The festival will once again be a hybrid model that includes live in-person performances, as well as live streams and on-demand. Ice Factory 2023 features seven new works over seven weeks, June 28 – August 12, at New Ohio Theatre (154 Christopher St.) in New York City.
Live in-person performances are Wednesdays – Saturdays at 7 pm. All Thursday night performances are live-streamed at 7 pm ET and then available on-demand through the end of the festival. Tickets are $20 and $18 (students and seniors). Purchase live stream and on-demand tickets at https://watch.eventive.org/icefactory2023 and in-person tickets at https://newohiotheatre.org.