By Amanda Nicastro and Matthew K. Sears; Directed by Chris Booth
Produced by Rotten Apple
Part of the 2017 FRIGID New York Festival
Off Off Broadway, Sketch Comedy
Runs through 3.2.17
Kraine Theater, 85 East 4th Street
by Adrienne Urbanski on 2.21.17
Amanda Nicastro in Rotten Apple: Escape to LA?. Photo by Matthew K. Sears.
BOTTOM LINE: This amusing show presents sketches centered around two friends wondering if they should flee New York City for an easier life in Los Angeles.
I’m sure that every New Yorker wonders at some point if life wouldn’t be easier if they moved to another city elsewhere. Perhaps a place where rents are just a bit lower, the streets are just a bit less crowded, people are just a bit more polite, and where you don’t have to rely on a transportation system which constantly reroutes trains and closes stations. This is the thinking behind Rotten Apple: Escape to LA?, which focuses on two friends, Matthew (Matthew K. Sears) and Amanda (Amanda Nicastro), entertaining the idea of getting out of their stress-filled lives by escaping to the slower paced, sunshine-filled Los Angeles.
The show opens with a clever video of the two running through a rough morning in New York City rife with such annoyances as a rent increase, noisy jackhammers, and catcalling men. Amanda runs in out of breath, complaining that it took her seven trains to make it to the theater while she attempts to down an entire pot of coffee. The two share their mounting woes, with Amanda noting that it has made her "lonely, desensitized, and overwhelmed." They dream of new lives in LA, free from the constant stress of the city that has worn them down.
What follows is a series of sketches that center around life in both cities. An extreme drought in LA—where lawn watering is illegal—is met by heavy snowfall in NYC—where the sidewalks are covered in frozen rat carcasses. The avant garde phallic art installations filling Central Park are met by the "art" of a volleyball match on an LA beach played by people with perfect suntanned bodies. Weirdos of NYC are lampooned, whereas an aging LA actress attempts to seduce a poll taker with tales of her background roles and attempts at stardom. The two return again as motivational speakers at a business conference, giving an inspirational speech ridden with sexualized business metaphors, showing the profit-centered capitalism of New York City’s finance sector.
There is plenty of funny material here, written by seasoned New Yorkers familiar with the pains of surviving in a tough, dream-killing city. However, cutting a bit or two and expanding the funnier sketches would make Rotten Apple: Escape to LA? even better. Nicastro and Sears regularly perform sketch comedy together under the name Rotten Apple, and their natural chemistry maximizes the comedic potential of each sketch. Both show a lot of talent as both performers and writers. I hope to see them onstage again soon so I can turn my frustration at living in New York into laughter at their spot-on, city-focused humor.
(Rotten Apple: Escape to LA? plays at the Kraine Theater, 85 East 4th Street, through March 2, 2017. The running time is one hour. Performances are Wed 2/15 at 10:30, Sun 2/19 at 5:10, Thu 2/23 at 10:30, Mon 2/27 at 7:10, and Thu 3/2 at 5:30. Tickets are $15, $10 for students/seniors/military and for UCB/PIT/Magnet members, and are available at FRIGIDNewYork.info.)
Rotten Apple: Escape to LA? is written and performed by Amanda Nicastro and Matthew K. Sears. Directed by Chris Booth.