Seven Minutes in Heaven
By Steven Levenson; Directed by Adrienne Campbell-Holt
Runs through 6.20.10
HERE Arts Center, 145 Sixth Avenue
by Tzipora Kaplan on 6.9.10
Kristen Connolly, Erin Felgar, Matt Stadelmann, Heidi Neidermeyer, and Teddy Bergman in Seven Minutes in Heaven.
BOTTOM LINE: A smartly-written, well-executed 75 minutes of funny sadness...my favorite kind of play. I definitely recommend.
Oh to be a teenager in the '90s! No lie, there were Doc Martens onstage. I almost freaked from nostalgia.
Seven Minutes in Heaven, by Steven Levenson, is a quirky and expertly crafted tale of adolescent awakening; a story about the small experiences that shape our adult behaviors, for better or worse. It begins in Margot's basement rec room where she hosts a small pizza party with her high school freshmen friends to meet her erstwhile and absent 'boyfirend' from camp, who is quite the tardy partier. It gets later and later and Mr. Wonderful is still nowhere to be seen, so we join the youngsters on a series of party games while they wait, beginning with the innocence of Candyland, and ending with the titular, Seven Minutes in Heaven (which we called Seven Minutes in the Closet, but maybe that's the Jersey Variant; I guess our expectations were lower, eh?) Along the way friendships are made and broken, and the youngsters do a lot of growing up in Margot's basement.
As someone who spent a large majority of the '90s as a teenager, I connected with this play instantly and without reservation, so my review is through nostalgia colored glasses. In fairness, the bottom line is this: a few scripted moments are a little weak and sometimes the show feels a bit uneven, but I didn't care because overall, I think it's a delightful, pensive little tale about losing innocence - when we first become aware of what connects us and what keeps us disconnected.
My one generic wish (and this is no way is meant as critical, just something I thought of wistfully on the way home): I think the story would've connected even more if casting had been a bit more age appropriate. The actors are all wonderful, no question, but the drama would've been that much greater were the players closer to teenagers than full adults.
The kids are each equally personable and off-putting, and I tip a special hat to the actors, Teddy Bergman, Kristen Connolly, Erin Felgar, Heidi Niedermeyer, Matthew Stadelmann, and Joe Tippett, for their nuanced performances. The direction is mostly subtle and light-handed, and the design work is phenomenal. I felt completely at home, and for a show set in a basement rec room, there is no higher praise.
If these are the kinds of parties to be expected, Margot should definitely have people over for pizza more often.
(Seven Minutes in Heaven
plays at Here Arts Center, 145 Sixth Avenue (entrance on Dominick Street, one block south of Spring), through June 20, 2010. Performances are Tuesdays through Sundays at 7pm. For complete performance schedule visit here.org
. Tickets are $18 and can be purchased at here.org
or by calling 212.352.3101. For more show info visit coltcoeur.org