ComedyDramaLGBTQNew YorkOff-BroadwayReview

The Other Plays – Jeffrey and Paula Gural Theatre (A.R.T./New York Theatres), New York

Writers: Dennis A. Allen II, Bekah Brunstetter, Lameece Issaq, Neil LaBute, Tatiana G. Rivera

Directors: Christopher Burris, Gwynn MacDonald, Ann Marie Morelli, Dabid Rosar Stearns, Pamela Sabaugh

Reviewer: Jamie Rosler

Actors of all ages, backgrounds, and physical capabilities fill the stage with their voices and stories in the current production from Theater Breaking Through Barriers (TBTB). The Other Plays bills itself as a series of “short plays about diversity and otherness,” and it manages to successfully fulfill all the ways in which that could be interpreted.

With eight shorts and one song, performed by a total cast of eighteen players, the audience is confronted with several questions of “the other,” both explicitly in the form of subject matter, and more subtly by simply casting differently-abled performers that one wouldn’t normally expect to see on stage. The link between the audience and all of the characters we meet is our humanity. Regardless of race or sex, use of a wheelchair or cane, or the country into which you happened to be born, we sympathize with the struggle to be understood, loved, and content in this world.

As often happens with an anthology performance, some of the vignettes are brought to life more capably than others. One technical flaw that seems to connect all of the individual pieces is a too-long fade to black, leaving the audience consistently unsure as to whether a piece is truly over. Overall, however, this production is touching, humane, and attainably confrontational. It is well worth a visit.

Runs until 26 March 2017

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