ComedyDramaNew YorkOff-BroadwayReview

Nibbler – Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, New York

Writer: Ken Urban

Director: Benjamin Kamine

Reviewer: Adrienne Sowers

The Amoralists’ newest production, Nibbler, invades the Rattlestick Playwrights Theater with a story of high school friends, and their estrangement as they prepare for life after graduation. Set in a small New Jersey town where there’s not much for teenagers to do other than get drunk in the park, this play hearkens to the promise of the early 1990s, and the potential of life, as a teenager.

The intent of the play is obscure without reading the author’s note in the program, and though the heart of the play beats with nostalgia, it is difficult to find playwright Ken Urban’s central thesis for the piece. The science-fiction angle is a fun kitschy backdrop, but there is a dramaturgical unevenness to the effect of the alien and the significance of the changes it invokes within each character. At the conclusion of the piece, one is uncertain as to exactly what story they’ve just witnessed. It’s not that the facts of the play are unclear, but that the “why” of the piece proves elusive.

The production is charming and well put together, with strong performances from a capable young cast.  Jokes land well, and the energy of the play is even and moves nicely along. However, it is challenging to shake the “why” question of the play. Why do we care about these characters? Why does the alien’s effect appear uneven? Why this story at this time? The vagaries detract from the inherent charm of the piece, causing a bit of a hurdle for the viewer’s full emotional investment in the action.

Nibbler in its current state feels like a solid effort by a young company, but does not quite reach the level of storytelling prowess needed to evoke an invested reaction. It feels a touch alien.

Runs until 18 May 2017

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The American team is under the editorship of Adrienne Sowers. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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