Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Architecture of Becoming @ The New York City Center Stage II

A jaunt through history is a piece of cake for The Architecture of Becoming, a delightfully woven story that tells the tale of the New York City Center through the artists’ eyes of those looking in from the outside, longing to be a part of something more.  The story is an ode to those seeking inspiration and who, through fate or determination, have found their way to New York City to find it.  We watch each of these tales, written in turn by five playwrights, as they pass the baton of history from one to another with perfect precision.  The romance of New York is tarnished in the eyes of each of the characters by the difficult decisions that each is faced with.  This struggle demonstrates the respect the show has for the true artists of the city.  The show’s target audience demographic seems a bit narrow but the flowing timelessness that it presents allows a connection to a broader base of people.
The cast delivers a delightfully, ever changing performance.  Stand out performances by all five of them can be seen throughout the show.  Vanessa Kai’s stoic Tomomi Nakamura drags at the heart strings while later roles throw the chains of “Gaman” away and reveal a new side of Kai.  Christopher Livingston hands us the keys to his soul as a graffiti artist who longs to set the music free.  Jon Norman Schneider’s tragic Loco-Loco and Shun Nakamura are like looking into the eyes of our friends and loved ones in pain, while we are simply helpless bystanders.  Danielle Skraastad, as the Grande Dame is precisely what her name implies – larger than life.  Add to that her romantic roles and she puppeteers the audience for the evening.  Claudia Acosta’s out of town innocence lends itself to new arrivals of the city.  Her seemingly genuine disorientation allows the audience to join the ride.
The playwrights, Kara Lee Corthron, Sarah Gancher, Virginia Grise, Dipika Guha and Lauren Yee, deliver a beautifully intertwined series of stories told through an abstract, inner viewing lens.  The lighting and sound (Justin Townsend and Elisheba Ittoop respectively) act as the glue that ties these stories into one.  
A thoughtful and genuine piece, the Architecture of Becoming will possibly leave you inspired to tackle your own obstacles.  At the least, it should allow you to appreciate the trials of those who give to their calling each day.

Review By: Paul Morin

Photos By: Carol Rosegg

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