By Mêlisa Annis; Directed by Ludovica Villar-Hauser
Produced by Parity Productions
Off Off Broadway, Play
Runs through 4.20.19
Theaterlab, 357 West 36th Street
by Shoshana Roberts on 3.31.19
Stephanie Heitman and Xanthe Elbrick in Charlie's Waiting. Photo by John Quilty.
BOTTOM LINE: A stellar cast, crew, and design team brings to life a story about the night before two women are to be married, when an old friend shows up to drag the past out of the shadows.
Louise (Xanthe Elbrick) and Kelly (Stephanie Heitman) are getting married on their own land. Considering that Louise is pregnant, the two women are planning to keep it simple the night before their nuptials: a home-cooked fish dinner and finishing up their DIY decorations. As Kelly is away at a neighbor’s house to feed their goats, her old friend Annie (Amy Scanlon) stops by, a woman Louise has never heard about. With Kelly having lost track of both her phone and the time, Louise and Annie make awkward small talk. Annie assures Louise that she is not an ex girlfriend; still, it turns out that there is a lot Louise doesn't know about her future wife’s past. The waiting game is full of delightful pregnant pauses that speak volumes. If only Kelly would return soon and put them out of their misery...
The success of this production is a result of a strong collaboration of everyone on the team. Playwright Mêlisa Annis provides a thought-provoking, well-crafted script. Director Ludovica Villar-Hauser knocks it out of the park with her vision of a seemingly simple world gone awry. Then there is the all-female design team: Meganne George's set, Miriam Nilofa Crowe's lighting, and Caroline Kittredge Faustine's sound, all coming together to develop this world, shaping it into the beautiful, seamless play that is a pleasure to watch.
With black cushions atop wooden armrests displaying intricate woodwork, and a white shag pillow on one of the chairs, the furniture choices capture the attention before the show even begins. The same can be said for the pictures upon the white flats of rocks and a quaint stone house. With some jazz and talk radio to sooth us, we are transported into a beautiful reality of a British town where buildings are constructed with pieces from Hadrian’s Wall and people propose to each other while attending a funeral.
But the icing on this delicious cake is the cast. Xanthe Elbrick, Stephanie Heitman, and Amy Scanlon breathe life into Charlie's Waiting, creating rich, intriguing characters that inspire a desire to know as much as possible. My biggest critique is simply that I wanted more—more of Charlie's Waiting, but also more shows about passionate, three-dimensional characters like these, acted by gifted actors like these. When the show ended, I wished we were only at intermission, so I would have more time with this fascinating world of strange and endearing women.
(Charlie's Waiting plays at Theaterlab, 357 West 36th Street, through April 20, 2019. The running time is 75 minutes with no intermission. Performances are Thursdays at 7:30; Fridays at 7:30; Saturdays at 3 and 7:30; and Sundays at 3. Tickets are $27.50 and are available at theaterlabnyc.com. For more information visit parityproductions.org.)
Charlie's Waiting is by Mêlisa Annis. Directed by Ludovica Villar-Hauser. Production Design by Meganne George. Lighting Design by Miriam Nilofa Crowe. Sound Design by Caroline Kittredge Faustine. Stage Manager is Jenna Ng Lowry.
The cast is Xanthe Elbrick, Stephanie Heitman, and Amy Scanlon.