By Sofia Alvarez; Directed by Knud Adams
Produced by Blockchain Theater Project
Off Off Broadway, Play
Runs through 3.24.19
TheaterLab, 357 West 36th Street
by Ken Kaissar on 3.20.19
Cesar J. Rosado and Sheila Vand in Nylon. Photo by Knud Adams.
BOTTOM LINE: A small and intimate new play that manages to be simultaneously simple and yet intricately plotted.
One of the exciting things about Off Off Broadway is getting to see the work of great artists in intimate settings. Sofia Alvarez’s work can be seen on Netflix (To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before) and has been produced by Second Stage (Friend Art), but you can see her latest play in the 57-seat TheaterLab. Alvarez is the founding artistic director of the brand new Blockchain Theater Project (BTP), and Nylon is their pilot production. She teams up with Sheila Vand, who has her own resume of impressive credits including playing opposite the late Robin Williams in Rajiv Joseph’s Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo.
Anna (Vand) and Matthew (Cesar J. Rosado) share an intense history. Now, after four years, Anna is married and living in the U.K. and Matthew has given up music to become a gardener. They reunite for a cup of coffee that quickly leads to Anna’s hotel room. After a couple of room-service burgers and many drinks, their reunion devolves into one last roll in the hay. But as they get dressed, we learn just how complicated and tragic their relationship history was, and what is still at stake.
Alvarez’s succinct script is wonderfully complex. She has the impressive ability of revealing a great deal of exposition while entertaining us through the sexual tension of reunited lovers. There’s a lot of information we need to learn in order to understand the play, but we’re so caught up in their chemistry that we hardly notice that we’re soaking up their life histories like a sponge. Three other characters are named in the early scenes between Anna and Matthew. While we have no idea what they're talking about at first, we figure out who these people are and how they fit into this intricate plot long before we meet them.
Director Knud Adams wisely makes the experience an uber-intimate one by cutting the TheaterLab space in half, thereby creating an extremely shallow playing space. The piece feels less like a play and more like an examination of five characters under a microscope. Lighting designer Kate McGee works wonders with very little. She finds a way to create several different atmospheres, using a different source of light for every scene. The inventory she’s working with is sparse, and yet she tells the story completely and nothing feels missing from her design.
Nylon is a rare treat. I often approach new Off Off plays with trepidation. But this is intimate black (or in this case white) box theatre at its best. It’s a joy to watch this excellent five-person ensemble up close and personal. BTP has certainly captured my interest, and I'm looking forward to their next offering.
(Nylon plays at TheaterLab, 357 West 36th Street, through March 24, 2019. The running time is 2 hours with an intermission. Performances are Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30; Fridays and Saturdays at 8; Sundays at 3. Tickets are $22 and are available at theaterlabnyc.com. For more information visit btproject.us.)
Nylon is by Sofia Alvarez. Directed by Knud Adams. Set Design by Andrew Moerdyk. Lighting Design by Kate McGee. Costume Design by Clara Fath. Sound Design by John Gasper. Original Music by Anand Wilder. Stage Manager is Pat Harnett-Marshall.
The cast is Sheila Vand, Cesar J. Rosado, Maggie Bofill, Brian Miskell, and Claire Siebers.