By Gabrielle Reisman; Directed by Portia Krieger
Produced by Brooklyn Yard
Off Off Broadway, New Play
Runs through 9.19.15
A backyard in Bushwick near the Halsey J train (details provided with ticket purchase)
by Keith Paul Medelis on 9.16.15
Becca Blackwell and Claire Siebers in Storm, Still. Photo by Alison Luntz.
BOTTOM LINE: As lovely as a cool evening under the stars.
Storm, Still is no gimmick. Yes, this takes place in the very own backyard of the playwright herself. You’ll be welcomed right in through her front door and treated to some drinks. This could easily be the most pretentious thing ever, matched only by me in elementary school debuting my new musical for my mom, dad, and a trusted stuffed animal. Or it could be, and is, a thrilling throwback to the can-do, grungy New York of yesteryear, filled with questionably legal, indelible theater-going experiences.
This thing is not easy to get to. If you’re like me you’ll have to take four train transfers and eventually just resolve yourself to walking for expediency and sanity's sake. Unless of course you live in Bushwick, in which case you’ll be pleased that such good work can be happening between your laundromat and the local Little Caesars.
“I hate dying. There’s so much formality in it,” says Goneril of her father’s death. Yes, King Lear is only known affectionately here as “Dad.” And indeed Gabrielle Reisman’s play is a kind of retelling of Shakespeare’s King Lear after “Dad” has passed away. Oh damn, spoiler alert. The three sisters Cordelia (Claire Siebers), Regan (Becca Blackwell), and Goneril (Crystal Lucas-Perry) are cleaning out dad’s house, searching for a will that may or not be there.
The typically vicious, feuding, greedy sisters of the tragedy are here united in the awkward calm after the storm of a death. In the way that tragedy usually brings us all together to reconcile the past, so too does Brooklyn Yard by gathering us in their own yard, toasting with rum, and celebrating our disparate qualities. There’s some fabulous casting from director Portia Krieger who chooses to make these sisters look nothing alike. We believe their family-ness and root for them to reconnect in this time of grief. Krieger too takes every opportunity to let us into the story with playful, simple, and specific storytelling that recount Lear in the most comedic of ways in the way you might say “god, I was so drunk” after a particularly exciting weekend.
Reisman is a wonderful playwright, giving us nuggets of wisdom alongside her well concocted story. We’re treated to a moving monologue on the nature of war: “What’s the point of procreation when we move so quickly to war?” and comments on the lust for needing love: “Tell me how much you love me." She has served us and this fine company well. I do hope this is the first of many Brooklyn Yard shows. It is hard to imagine a better, more appropriate show to start with and I hope those good choices continue. Even if it is four train transfers away.
(Storm, Still plays in a backyard in Bushwick near the Halsey J train, details provided with ticket purchase, through September 19, 2015. Performances are on Mondays at 8; and Wednesdays through Sundays at 8. Tickets are $18 and can be purchased online at brooklynyard.org.)