Reviewed by Gregor Collins
Generally speaking, when it comes to a song, if I vibe on the first listen, it’s going straight into my ears during a hard workout at the gym—but a song that takes multiple listens to unravel its complexity is a song accompanying me on a Sunday stroll through a park on a crisp day.
Andrea Goldman’s Hurricane Sleep is the soundtrack to that crisp Sunday stroll, and the good news is that you don’t have to see the show multiple times to feel its gallivanting pathos—you need but once. And if you’re patient during the “set up”, you’ll eventually be girded with a seductive coalescence that come-hithers you into a hyperrealistic world that feels like if Alice in Wonderland and A Christmas Carol had sex in an abandoned New York bodega during hurricane Sandy.
Written by Andrea Goldman of The Box Collective (the theater company she founded in 2010), co-directed by Goldman and Julia Watt, and produced by the always exacting and provocative Iati Theater, Hurricane Sleep follows Sal (Rachel Schmeling) as she embarks on a sublime, psychosexual exploration into “letting go.”
Amidst the howling winds of Sandy, Sal (our “Alice”) stumbles into a bodega and meets a local girl named Ome (Neysa Lozano) whose devil-may-care approach to everything under the sun progressively frees Sal of her repressed sexuality. Along the way a cadre of endearingly irreverent characters—spirits, we presume—materialize to confront Sal about the squalid past and dreaded future she insists on clinging to, ultimately showing her, and us all, the magic of the here and the now.
Schmeling and Lozano play well together, at first as polar opposites and then, by the end, as one formless, shapeless body that, we’re pretty sure, will live in perfection for eternity.
Spirit #1 is the ghost of Ome’s mother (Heaven Stephens), who teaches, taunts and twerks her way around the stage, disarming the audience in a multitude of bombastic ways; Spirit #2 is Beer Pong Guy (Shashwat Gupta), whose soft-spoken wit unwittingly invokes “Pedro” from Napoleon Dynamite; finally, the formidable actor George Bass gives a scenes-stealing performance as Spirit #3: “Señor”.
The play is heavy on physicality, complete with carefully coordinated movement sequences, some feeling right out of a Tchaikovsky ballet, some out of a Marilyn Manson video, co-created and orchestrated by international movement coach Sara Fay George, who turns our deepest demons into dazzling dances. There are things in this life words simply can never do justice—and Goldman lets George run free, lending her visual artistry where words could never exist.
The set design (Mike Mroch), sound design (Matt Sherwin) and lighting design (Elizabeth Schweitzer) all pull together to seduce us into Sal’s dreams, seamlessly turning a gritty bodega into a playhouse of flashing lights and sultry soundscapes.
As Goldman shows us in her lilting script, it is ultimately through disaster that we discover our true beauty.
Performances will be held from May 2nd-12th on Tuesdays-Thursdays at 7:00 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m., and Sundays at 3:00 p.m.
Tickets are $25 for adults, $20 for students and seniors. Tickets: call 212-505-6757 or visit http://www.iatitheater.org/