Bitchy Actress

New York, Acting, and Attitude: Believe These Stories Or Don't - But I Betcha They're True.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Fringe Can Be A Good Thing: MTWorks' Look After You

Since my shoot in L.A. was canceled for another month while a couple of producers try to pull their heads out of their collective asses, I found myself still in NYC while The NY Fringe Festival was going on. On the recommendation of a friend, and due to its overwhelming popularity as the one of the few "real plays" amongst the campy horseshit that Fringe has become, I decided to go see Look After You produced by the up-and-coming new Steppenwolf, MTWorks. The play, by Louise Flory and directed by David Stallings, caused me to be very pleasantly surprised. It actually exceeded my expectations, since most Fringe shows are mildly humorous or shocking at best (with the exception of this company's Anais Nin Goes To Hell in Fringe last year - that was fantastic).

Okay, so it's a play about a young woman, Hannah (Flory) who suffers a brain aneurysm and is trying to deal with her memory loss, her knowledge that she could drop dead any minute despite having survived the surgery and is doing well at home post op. It also takes a look at the relationships around her - with her boyfriend Jake (Jason Altman) who loves her but can't seem to decide if he wants to be with a woman who could die in an instant; her older sister (masterfully and wonderfully played by Adi Kurtchik) who is a business world diva whose personal life is a wreck - but she adores her baby sister and is determined to make sure that she is getting the best care.

Another wonderful role is Altman's buddy Paul (naturally and believably played by Lowell Byers) who is the angel on Altman's shoulder, encouraging him to get the balls to ask Hannah to marry him again (since Altman hid the ring when she didn't remember after it was taken off during surgery). One of the most poignant parts of the show for me was the speech Byers makes telling Altman to "...make a choice, because the world will make one for you." Another scene between him and Flory is fluid, and I often wonder why actors can't simply talk to each other like was seen in this show. A very simple thing in theory, but most plays manage to screw it up. Well done, here.

Overall, I thought the acting was good. Stallings, an award-winning playwright who made the leap again to directing, did a great job staging the show and getting the actors to communicate. I had issues with Altman through various parts of the show - I didn't feel that there was enough at stake with him - and that he wasn't following through with character choices that made sense. However, there were moments of diamonds in the rough that made me really feel for his character's plight. Kurchik was delightful as she told her story about her love life to her little sister - and small moments when she sees Flory's scar for the first time made me cry.

Ultimately, Flory had the most difficult role of all, as both actress, playwright, and the focus of the show. Although there were times that the actress was wrapped up in playing to herself, those moments were few and far between. She was able to maintain a light-heartedness that kept the play from being "a movie of the week" (something that I've noticed a couple of reviews saying, which just goes to show that the moment you bring up illness, people's own personal fears come in between the art and the ability to review it properly - this is anything but a Lifetime special) and she truly dove into the part with all of herself.

This is one of a few good shows that are playing in Fringe this year, actually. Viral, Eli & Cheryl Jump, and Mr. Sensitivity are some fun, emotional, and surprisingly enjoyable productions. I'm sure there are a few more, but I just don't have time to go watch a show that gets out at 11pm...even people like myself need sleep.


  • At 12:52 PM, Blogger Unknown said…


    My top fringing experiences this year have been: Viral, The Marriage Play (forget the long title), Eli and Cheryl Jump, Sex In The Holy Land and Look After You.

  • At 1:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I saw this show - I thought it was good! Good review - although you yourself say you don't "review"...

    I agree with a lot of what you said.


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