Seat Filler: Best NYC Theater of 2009
BY Brandon Voss
December 30 2009 5:55 PM ET
10. Blanche Survives Katrina in a FEMA Trailer Named Desire
I do declare that I swooned for this clever solo comedy, which was written and performed by Mark Sam Rosenthal at off-Broadway’s Soho Playhouse after earning Audience Choice and Excellence Awards at FringeNYC 2008. The out Louisiana native portrayed a gay cleanup worker who uses an abandoned valise full of bad blond wigs to channel Blanche DuBois, Tennessee Williams’s tragic figure, reimagined as a boozy anachronism displaced by the storm to the Superdome and subsequent job placement as a Popeye’s cashier. In what may be the funniest thing to sprout out of Katrina’s mildewed aftermath, Rosenthal recovered delicious one-liners and surprising pathos from the debris.
9. Children at Play
Jordan Seavey wasn’t playing around with this very adult play at the Lower East Side’s little Living Theatre. The out playwright’s challenging, shocking, and profoundly disturbing work followed five gifted and talented students who remain friends through an eventful junior high and high school experience defined by eating disorders, molestation, experimentation, and more. Seavey, who previously tackled gay-bias crime in The Truth Will Out, adeptly explored the dark and the delightful sides of shifting adolescent sexuality with a masturbation sequence behind a backlit curtain, a revealing game of truth or dare, and a Sybilesque argument between two boyfriends played by the same actor.
In this smart, smoldering drama at Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, a widowed mother had relocated her gay son, self-mutilating hipster Eli, from San Francisco to small-town Iowa. Emotionally scarred by his first relationship with a menacing closet case seen in tense flashbacks, Eli soon found himself sleeping with an affectionate stud on his new high school’s baseball team. Straight playwright Daniel Talbott’s program note said the action took place in 2006 “at the shore of legalized marriage and Obama,” but Eli's classmates still acted refreshingly indifferent to the affair. Sure, the play was total queer fantasy fulfillment, but leads Seth Numrich and MacLeod Andrews were affecting and adorable.