Saturday, April 29, 2017

"The Assignment" by Camilo Almonacid - An Intriguing New Play - Through May 7th


Houses on the Moon Theater Company has joined forces with Rhymes Over Beats to present "The Assignment," a new play by Camilo Almonacid that addresses the issue of gun violence in an innovative way. The play is a two hander, with Davis University English professor (Karen Kandel) struggling to deal with a needy new non-traditional student, Julian J. Torres (Erick Betancourt).

The performance space is the black box Jeffrey and Paula Gural Theatre in the beautiful new performances spaces of the A.R.T./New York Theatres on 53rd Street. Scenic Designer Patrick Rizzotti makes good use of the space with his set that doubles as faculty office and Helen's home. Lighting is by Christina Watanabe, Costumes by Genevieve V. Beller, and Sound by Erik T. Lawson. Director Emily Joy Weiner has helped these two fine actors form a tangible bond, growing from initial distrust, and weathering several unexpected complications in which their relationship deepens, experiences a rift, and then finds a detente. Both Ms. Kandel and Mr. Betancourt create believable, vulnerable, and sympathetic characters that we come to care about. Each of them is looking to find a way to build a meaningful life after experiencing a devastating loss.

The motif of the after effects of gun violence underlies all of the action, only becoming explicit as the play unfolds. Professor Payne and Julian find themselves on opposite sides of the issue, and the chasm that separates them is a wide and painful one. The playwright asks questions about the nature of loss and how one recovers from gun violence - as a victim and as a perpetrator.

Erick Betancourt as Julian J. Torres
Karen Kandel as Professor Payne
"The Assignment"
House on the Moon Theater
and Rhymes over Beats
at ART/New York Theatres
Through May 7th

The play is one that is moving and engenders reflection. The themes of the play are enhanced by a lobby display of artwork that depict the shoes of victims, and tell about young lives that were lost to gun violence. The overall impact of the play and the artwork in the lobby is powerful in its poignancy and simplicity.

The development of this play has been inspired by real life events, and runs in repertory with "Gun Country," which explores the creative process behind the development of "The Assignment." This play run through May 7th, and is worthy of your attention.

Houses on the Moon Theater Website


Al Chase

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