Saturday, October 25, 2014

Lift *

My heart sank when the usher leading me to my seat at 59E59 Theater A for a preview of Walter Mosley’s play announced that the intermission listed in the program had been eliminated. From painful experience, I have learned that the usual reason for dropping intermission is that a substantial portion of the audience was not returning afterwards. I suspect that was the case here. Given the opportunity, I know that I would have fled. Alas, I did not get the opportunity so I had to sit through almost two hours of clumsy theatrics about two people trapped in an elevator in a building that has been bombed by terrorists. The two are Tina Pardon (Maamayaa Boafo), a seemingly prim Princeton grad, and Theodore “Big Time” Southmore (Biko Eisen-Martin), a highly placed analyst at the financial firm they both work for. Before the elevator accident, we briefly meet Tina’s sassy friend Noni Tariq (Shavona Banks) and the company CEO John Thomas Resterly (Martin Kushner), the only Caucasian character, who spouts more odious remarks in five minutes than one would think possible. We do learn eventually that the terrorists who bombed the building are also white, out to strike a blow against “the Jew banks.” During the long period they are trapped in the elevator, Tina and Theodore share secrets. We learn how she paid her way through college and how he deals with the pressures of a stressful job and a mother with dementia. In case their stories were not enough, Mosley throws in scraps of melodrama we hear from unseen people trapped in other elevators. They are not the only people feeling trapped. Andrei Onegin designed the somewhat flimsy cut-away elevator. Marshall Jones III directed. With his long successful writing career, Mosley's reputation will survive this fiasco. Running time: 1 hour, 55 minutes without intermission.

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