By KG Garcia; Directed by Derik Wingo
Produced by 15-501 Productions
Off Off Broadway, Play
Runs through 8.30.15
VENUE #10: The Kraine Theater, 85 East 4th Street
by Michael Hartung on 8.31.15
KC Garcia in Jericho. Photo by Leslie Hassler.
BOTTOM LINE: A self aware play that knows it’s a play, Jericho brings to life one man’s memories of his first love.
Lights up on a messy attic. Well actually, lights up on several wooden cubes. Jericho quickly sets up the audience to use our ears and our imaginations. The narrator (KC Garcia, who also wrote the piece) starts the play by demolishing the fourth wall and talking directly to us, establishing a self-aware, “you’re watching a play and we know it” style. The narrator is cleaning out his attic, after a particularly painful 10-year college reunion; a scenario that (with the help of vodka nips) can’t help but launch him into thoughts of his first love. As he recounts his freshman year of college, an ensemble of skilled actors (Jimmy Kieffer, Dan Olson, and Curry Whitmire) play every part, from crazy ex-girlfriends, to his “bisexual” best friend, to his abrasive mother. These genuinely funny guys pop in and out of the narrative in a very cinematic fashion. Their presence paired with Garcia’s quick and witty dialogue brought to mind the well edited web series that we see growing in popularity in our digital culture (perhaps a fitting venue for more of Garcia’s work).
Though Garcia’s writing moves at a refreshingly clipping pace with intelligent wit, the nature of the play has a lingering “college frat” mentality that quickly becomes tiresome. Words like “bro” and “bitch” are thrown around perhaps too liberally.
Finally, we meet the object of the narrator’s desire, Dani (Joanne Wilson). She is a different sort of girl. In fact, she’s more like a guy than any girl the narrator has been with: his dream woman! We see the narrator struggle as he navigates the fine line between winning Dani’s affections and avoiding the dreaded “friend zone.” Though Dani is undeniably cute, the dialogue throughout the play does little to set her up in a favorable way. She often comes off as crude and insensitive. It’s as though the narrative skips the moments where we see why he loves her and why she’s coming to mind again 10 years later.
Still, through it all, Jericho makes you laugh. The cast is having a great time with each other on stage and that energy is undoubtedly infectious. As they navigate this complicated story, their versatility shines. A surprise plot twist at the end successfully brings a contrasting sentimentality to the play. It leaves you thinking and thankful for the experiences we have all had and the people we have shared them with.
(Jericho plays at VENUE #10: The Kraine Theater, 85 East 4th Street, through August 30, 2015. Performances are Sat 8/15 at 7; Mon 8/17 at 2; Sat 8/22 at 4:45; Mon 8/24 at 9:15; and Sun 8/30 at 12:15. There is no late seating at FringeNYC. Tickets are $18 and are available at fringenyc.org. For more information visit www.15501productions.com.)