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      Want's Unwisht Work
    Verse things vers'd

    "Want's Unwisht Work" is the return of Kirk Wood Bromley's 1996 delightful farce in Shakespeare-inspired verse about a bawdy birthday party at a university's feminist house.


    A revival of Kirk Wood Bromley's "Want's Unwisht Work" directed by the talented comedic actor Alexander Yannis Stephano is the latest offering from Inverse Theater, the off-off-Broadway company dedicated to producing Bromley's verse plays (including the previously reviewed "Midnight Brainwash Revival"). The first incarnation of "Want's" was as the hit show of the 1996 Todo con Nada season on Ludlow Street under the direction and dramatory of Nada founder Aaron Beall. Stephano, who performed in the original production, recently directed the play for the Sacred Fools Theater in LA where it received superlative reviews and was nominated for numerous awards.

    Company: Inverse Theatre.
    Written by: Kirk Wood Bromley.
    Directed by: Alexander Yannis Stephano.
    Cast: Spencer Aste, Alan Benditt, Elisa Blynn, Bill Coelius, Matt Daniels, Eve Eaton, Lars Engstrom, Tom Epstein, Emily Greenhill, Brad Haines, Bob Laine, Elizabeth London Matt Oberg, Christina Pastor, Shirley Roeca, Dave Shalansky, Joshua Spafford, Darius Stone.

    Related links: Official site
    "Want's" or "The Birthday Play" is a 1990s female-centric inversion of Shakespeare's "Love's Labor's Lost" with a framing device. A lonely and undiscovered verse playwright composes a work for his wife's birthday. The wife, who is the financial backbone of the couple, resigned to an evening of forced entertainment, sleeps on the couch as the play unfolds. The birthday libretto revolves around a college house for gender studies, focusing on two obscure "celebrity" professors, their protegees and a pair of neglected boyfriends forced to cross-dress to gain entry into the house. The writer Richard (played by Matt Daniels, in this instance a Bromley lookalike) also portrays Vaseline, a transvestite clothes horse living in the attic. There is a play within the play within the play as a group of earnest singing waiters (led by Al Benditt and Darius Stone in two very funny and heartfelt performances) attempts to deliver a Birthday gram to one of the sequestered young scholars.

    Stephano's direction is full of trademark gags, actors spitting out tictacs when hit across the face, slow-motion sequences, and double, triple and quadruple takes. While the cartoonish snorts of the characters are amusing and Marla's (Elisa Pearl Blynn) jerky onstage masturbation sequence riotous, the underlying sadness of the play — the forlorn nature of artistic creation in isolation — is nowhere to be found. Of the major characters, only Spencer Aste, who originated the role of Erad at Nada, creates a fleshed-out persona whom we care for although the other highly 'toonified performances have their moments.

    The verse itself ranges from the brilliant and inspired to the sophomoric and scatological — sometimes within the same line, creating a frenetic energy matched by a tendency among the actors to shout and speak too fast the difficult and clever lines:

    "Man, Brooklyn got babes as black as the pyramid's shadow and as pale as a skinned potato! I swear, Moptop, Brooklyn babes are as abundant as jock itch at a Red Hook junior high."

    Overall the script while grounded in that faraway time of 1996 — the computer era pre-dot-com — soars in its analysis of the artist's life. The desire to create tempered by the reality of paying the bills, the struggle of affording to be an artist in NYC and the brutal life-changing compromises that are impossible to escape:

    "Our wishes, from their dragging wants dismantled,
    Have floated to this play, as children do,
    Who play at flight to learn to crawl to work . . ..
    For we are a thriving, ever-stranger
    Alloyance of both the do and don't of dreams,
    The wish of was, the want in wasn't, the like
    Unlikely, the angry-happy stash of now.

    To see this play in 2001 is to witness a eulogy for Ludlow Street in the '90s whence this play was born, which, due to rising rents, Soho chic, and the wreck of the Todo con Nada (1988-2000), exists no more.

    MAY 6, 2001

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