Written by Ryan Sprague; Directed by Mike Backes
Produced by Estraña Theatre Company
Part of the 2014 Frigid New York Festival
Off Off Broadway, New Play
Runs through 3.5.14
The Kraine Theater, 85 East 4th Street
by Jordan Swisher on 2.24.14
Patrick Andrew Jones and Emily Tuckman in East in Red. Photo by Peter Bell.
BOTTOM LINE: A philosophical conversation between a prostitute and her client turns dangerous.
Marie (Emily Tuckman) is a prostitute in New York City. Aaron (Patrick Andrew Jones) is a hairstylist. East in Red, written by Ryan Sprague, takes place the night the two meet for this first time. Instead of paying Marie for the usual services, Aaron instead seems only interested in talking, though he is willing to pay her for that. After some discussion we learn that there has been a serial killer murdering prostitutes around the East Village. We also learn quite a lot about Aaron’s past, including a vicious practical joke lingering on his subconscious since high school.
Their interchange ranges from psychoanalysis to questions of sexuality but eventually, without revealing any spoilers, the conversation takes a violent turn and multiple secrets are revealed, including who the serial killer is and Marie’s true reason for coming to see Aaron. Eddie (Jonah Nathan) provides much of the comic relief as a groaningly anti-Semitic landlord with multiple jokes bordering on the obnoxious. Still, his role is helpful in lightening the dark mood of the piece. Director Mike Backes shows talent in fight choreography while the stage movement often feels meandering and unmotivated.
East in Red brings a lot of ambition to the Frigid New York Festival. The play moves in unexpected places, with plenty of surprises along the way. Despite the violence and morbid conversation, East in Red really is a dark comedy, exploring humanity through the lens of a modern day Jack The Ripper. The production is a great time for anyone looking for a thriller that will keep you guessing right up until the end.
(East in Red plays as part of the 2014 Frigid New York Festival at The Kraine Theater, 85 East 4th Street, through March 5, 2014. Remaining performances are Tuesday, February 25th at 5:30PM; Saturday, March 1st at 8:25PM; Tuesday, March 4th at 5:30PM; Wednesday, March 5th at 8:40PM. Tickets are $16 and are available at frigidnewyork.info.)