March 21, 2012


Last night, I was invited to a unique theatrical event.  The company Exit Pursued By A Bear (a reference to Shakespeare's A WINTER'S TALE) kicked off their second season with a production of Jeff Whitty's play THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF HEDDA GABLER.  The play, starring Whitty in a transformative turn as the titular character, takes place in a nether world where fictional characters live on for eternity.  Gabler meets up with Mammy from GONE WITH THE WIND, played with heart and searing soul by Billy Porter, as well as a host of other notable characters who are too delicious to reveal as they all try to find their way out of immortality and into real life.

The play was wonderfully acted and sharply written, funny as well as thought provoking. But what was really so lovely about this production was the presentation, taking place in a converted industrial style loft on the far west side of Hells Kitchen with seating on raised platforms covered in cozy pillows and blankets.  It was theatre as a true communal experience as the audience numbered maybe 30 people and the actors were only a few feet away.  At intermission, a dinner of fresh baked beer bread and a vegetarian stew was served, along with wine, beer and soda that audience members had brought to share.

The whole experienced made me think of what it must have been like being in NYC during the experimental theatre scene as it blossomed in the late 60's and early 70's.  There were other theatre artists in the crowd and after the show, there was a nice hour or so of socializing over dessert as people discussed the play and got to meet and chat with the actors, some of whom were helping clean up from dinner!

If you're interested in something unusual and unusually well-done, I would encourage you to check out this show. The cost for tickets is a suggestion donation of $20, which is well worth it and helps support this new non-profit theatre. The show has been extended through the end of this month and limited tickets available on their website.

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