By Lilia Rubin; Music by Katie Doherty; Directed by Jane Arnfield
Part of the 2016 New York International Fringe Festival
Off Off Broadway, Play
Runs through 8.27.16
VENUE #14: The Steve & Marie Sgouros Theatre, 115 MacDougal Street, 3rd Floor
THIS SHOW IS PART OF FRINGE ENCORES, PLAYING AT SOHO PLAYHOUSE FROM 10.5 to 10.18.
FOR TICKETS AND MORE INFO VISIT sohoplayhouse.com.
by Keith Paul Medelis on 8.14.16
Katie Kleiger, Miriam Canfield, Nicole Chaffin, Amelia Dudley, Nikita Tewani, and Dani Pedraza in The Fall. Photo by Brian McGuffog.
BOTTOM LINE: Told through a collage of monologues and choral odes, The Fall is the story of the September Girls, girls who lost their fathers on September 11.
A decade and some change after 9/11, we chart the progress and still-fresh grief of girls who lost their fathers as they come to terms with the lingering human consequences of the more public face of tragedy. We’re in some kind of group therapy, with a circle of small, red chairs that feel fragile and removed from place, much like these girls. Therapy gives way to quite polished vocal odes (by Katie Doherty) seething with harmonies from this large cast of talented actors that underscores and transitions each story that we see unfold sporadically across the evening.
The reason to see The Fall is for the performances. And let me offer that it isn’t just the lead actors who are standouts. This thing needs to make Fringe invent an award, and have The Fall single-handedly take the cake, for best “ensemble looking interested." There’s some really honest listening happening up there, and some remarkably truthful and powerful actors handling these monologues. Specific praise to Katie Kleiger as the bashful Lauren, Nikita Tewani as a powerful, conflicted Nasrin, and a true stand-out, Amelia Dudley’s hard-hitting Roxanne. Director Jane Arnfield keeps the play moving by pulling all the storytelling tricks in the book, using shapes, sound, and movement to understand our way through. We’re helped subtly with Aidan Dreskin’s menagerie of a sound design and Elizabeth M. Stewart’s specific light design.
That said, Lilia Rubin’s play feels dated. Indeed, a character says something to effect of, “anytime someone says 9/11 they look the other way—gotta go!” This materials feels of an early 2000s Bush era where words like "freedom," "patriot," and "hero" were emblazoned everywhere on a flag pin. With that behind us, we’ve got nothing but sentiment to well up in a far more complicated world. It’s also the style that feels out of place. Filed on the shelf of confessional docudrama a la The Laramie Project, we don’t get one contiguous story, but rather a play about ideas as told through (probably biographical) monologues. We aren’t allowed a gripping story to hang our hats on, but rather a patchwork of intimately related episodes.
What I found most intriguing about The Fall is the story of Francesca (Dani Pedraza) whose father is not a particularly flattering man, occasionally beating his wife and verbally abusing her. “He wasn’t a good person,” she says. He challenges our assumptions of these heroes that died on 9/11. What happens when this kind of man gets a memorial and permanent proverbial naming on each anniversary? Perhaps product for another evening of theater exploring what it even means to be heroic now that the dust has long since settled.
See it for these actors though. They’re really tremendous.
(The Fall plays at VENUE #14: The Steve & Marie Sgouros Theatre, 115 MacDougal Street, 3rd Floor, through August 27, 2016. The running time is 1 hour 30 minutes. Performances are Fri 8/12 at 7; Mon 8/15 at 5; Sun 8/21 at 5:45; Wed 8/24 at 9:30; and Sat 8/27 at 4:45. There is no late seating at FringeNYC. Tickets are $18 and are available at fringenyc.org. For more information visit thefalltheplay.com. For information about and tickets to this show's Fringe Encores run, visit sohoplayhouse.com.)
The Fall is by Lilia Rubin with music by Katie Doherty. Directed by Jane Arnfield. Lighting Design is by Elizabeth M. Stewart. Sound Design is by Aidan Dreskin.
The cast is Caroline Banks, Miriam Canfield, Nicole Chaffin, Alida Rose Delaney, Amelia Dudley, Arielle Gonzalez, Savannah Rose Jones, Katie Kleiger, Ava Langford, Sam Ogilvie, Dani Pedraza, Elle Powell, Jeffrey Robb, and Nikita Tewani.