Jesse Green highlights our show as a must see Trump satire in his review of the The Public Theater's new production of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar.
New York Times, Faust 3 feature

Critic Howard Miller names Kentucky Cantata as one of the top plays of 2015 on Off-Broadway and Off-Off-Broadway!
Listed with Arthur Miller, Annie Baker, Naomi Wallace, Stephen Karam, Amiri Baraka, et al.

"Off Broadway and Off Off Broadway productions often present some of the most creative, risk-taking, and compelling work in any theatrical season. Of the 120 shows I saw in the world of Off and Off Off since the start of 2015, I’ve identified a baker’s dozen that stood out among the pack."

"Kentucky Cantata. Paul David Young’s devastating play about a family tragedy, a blend of naturalism and a fourth-wall-breaching expressionistic design, was given a stellar production at HERE Arts Center under the direction of Kathy Gail MacGowan. Its stars, Dan Patrick Brady and Marta Reiman, were particularly effective as a married couple whose lives are stretched to the breaking point."

-- Howard Miller, Upstage-Downstage


"Kentucky Cantata is a masterful work that is likely to stay with you for a long time after the final bows."
"brilliantly composed"
-- Howard Miller, talkinbroadway.com

Talkin' Broadway

Kentucky Cantata

Theatre Review by Howard Miller

Kentucky Cantata

Marta Reiman and Hayley Treider.
Photo by Sasha Karasev, karasevstudio.com

Imagine you are the parent of an 18-year-old daughter, a recent high school graduate eager to leave her home in rural Kentucky and head to New York City to study acting. She has talent, a dream, the promise of a sofa to sleep upon, and an appointment with the Stella Adler Studio. And what if you reluctantly let her go alone to that place about which you have nightmares? And what if your very worst nightmare comes to pass?

This is the premise of playwright Paul David Young’s devastating new play Kentucky Cantata, now at the HERE Arts Center. It is about a brutal rape committed by an undocumented immigrant, a cab driver who picks up the young woman, Carolyn (Hayley Treider), at the airport and takes her to a deserted parking lot off the highway.

The rape, which occurs early on in the 70-minute play, is not directly depicted, but we are given first-hand accounts of it from Carolyn and from the rapist, Kareem (Tony Naumovski), who says of himself, “I am the one you cannot hear or see, the dark water that envelopes you.” Kareem has his own sad tale to tell, but, really, he should not go looking for sympathy from the audience. For the rest of the play, our hearts are entirely with Carolyn and her parents, Larry (Dan Patrick Brady) and Dora (Marta Reiman).

Kentucky Cantata is a brilliantly-composed play in which the metaphorical fourth wall separating the actors from the audience is raised and lowered at various times, so that the effect is one of alternately looking through the two ends of a telescope. Some of the story is deliberately distancing, with an expressionistic tone and narrated directly to the audience. At other times — especially in the scenes between Larry and Dora (exceptionally well acted by Mr. Brady and Ms. Reiman) — the play takes on a naturalistic tenor. Collectively, the two styles engage the heart and the mind throughout.

The play is rich with both imagery and down-to-earth detail. The family is not vaguely from Kentucky, but specifically from Monkeys Eyebrow, Kentucky (a real place). The route the driver takes from the airport is named, as is the business where the parking lot is located. Any New Yorker who has taken that well-traveled route will have no trouble envisioning the locale. The relationship between Larry and Dora is explored as well, and we can see that their marriage is as complicated as any, but that their ties to one another are unbreakable, even in the wake of the shattering events that unfold after one of them convinces the other to allow Carolyn to make the trip.

The performances are supported by a trio of talented musicians: Chris Funke on guitar, Rebecca Kuehl on flute, and Ashleé Miller, who composed the moody score, on clarinet. The musicians remain onstage and walk among the actors throughout the well-crafted production, directed by Kathy Gail MacGowan. Kentucky Cantata is a masterful work that is likely to stay with you for a long time after the final bows.

Kentucky Cantata
Through February 8
HERE,145 6th Avenue - Enter on Dominick St., One block south of Spring St.
Tickets online and current Performance Schedule: www.here.org

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Theater is Easy theeasy.com
Kentucky Cantata

By Paul David Young; Directed by Kathy Gail MacGowan

Off Off Broadway, New Play
Runs through 2.8.15
HERE Arts Center, 145 6th Avenue

by Angel Lam on 1.27.15

Hayley Treider in Kentucky Cantata. Photo by Sasha Karasev, karasevstudio.com.

BOTTOM LINE: A dark, poetic play about a young woman's dream to become an actor in New York City colliding with a mentally troubled illegal immigrant taxi driver.

Kentucky Cantata is a fictional story about a young woman named Carolyn from Monkeys Eyebrow, Kentucky (this is a real city). Her mother Dora (performed by Marta Reiman) has been worried and warns Carolyn (Hayley Treider) not to make the trip to the dangerous city. Dora dreams of her daughter working in a steady, stable occupation in rural Kentucky, but Carolyn is determined to leave. With the support of her father Larry (performed by Dan Patrick Brady), she sets out to New York City alone, not knowing that her life will soon come to a distressing halt.

The opening of the play describes a brutal rape scene, where the entire ensemble (including musicians) suggests the ominous event through body language, movements, and sounds. The scene sizzles with a disturbing sexual energy. Musicians intertwine between the actors, and the sounds/melodic lines punctuate the actors' speech. The score (performed by three musicians, composed by Ashleé Miller who also plays the clarinet) is sparse and hollow. Guitarist Chris Funke performs gracefully and with subtle charm in a scene interacting with Dora's sultry monologue.

The story unfolds non-chronologically, with a few long, bare monologues that depict detailed portraits of individual characters. Tony Naumovski does a great job with the difficult role of Kareem the taxi driver, a torn-hearted, lonesome visitor who is illegally staying in the country. As Carolyn, Hayley Treider performs well with choreographic movements as a young and distressed soul, moving between the physical world and the non-physical. Playwright Paul David Young's poetic writing moves comfortably between the psychological world of the characters (where a character speaks directly to the audience) and the traditional dialogue between a pair of actors at a specific time and place. The play is directed with nuanced details by Kathy Gail MacGowan, with movement consultation by Kristin Swiat and Marjorie Folkman.

(Kentucky Cantata plays at HERE Arts Center, 145 6th Avenue, through February 8, 2015. Performances are Tuesdays through Saturdays at 7PM and Sundays at 2PM. Tickets are $18 and are available at here.org or by calling 212.352.3101.)


Clown Play
at the C.O.W. Theater, August 2013 as part of the 17th Annual New York International Fringe Festival.


The Village Voice:
"completely unconventional”

“The script is intelligently bizarre: It’s Rob Zombie’s The Devil’s Rejects meets Marcel Marceau, and ultimately connects its disorienting components into an ode to clowning and the pain it sometimes masks."

The New York Times,
“Shows to Consider in the New York Fringe Festival”

“In his dark comedy ‘Clown Play,’ Paul David Young intriguingly combines critical elements from the horror playbook: angry clowns, semiautomatic weapons, an abandoned house in the suburbs.”

by Greg Solomon on 8.13.13

“the treatment of ‘the financial crisis, professional clowning, performance theory, suburban architecture, gun control, religion, murder, substance abuse and burglary’ did indeed touch up on all of those issues and more, but with a degree of levity that was refreshing in the current age of sometimes cult-like protest via social media.”

“Paul David Young’s script is exceedingly clever, with one absolutely killer monologue for Maria”

“Robert Lutfy’s direction is equally impressive”

“The whole cast is pitch-perfect once one becomes attuned to the style of the piece.”
“To sum up, this is exactly the kind of thing theatre-goers look forward to fringe festivals for: Daring, entertaining and ultimately non-mainstream fare.”


Thursday, August 15, 2013:

'Clown Play': One of the Offbeat Treats of the New York International Fringe Festival

“what is clear is that Mr. Young is a talented wordsmith who is able to take seemingly disparate elements and coalesce them into a logical and unexpectedly sweet play (unexpected, since a semi-automatic weapon puts in a threatening appearance from time to time)”

“consider the title as you leave the theater having had a surprisingly good time.”

“And while it is Mr. Young’s writing skill that was able to turn seemingly random scenes into a real charmer of a play, much credit must go to the cast (all of whom have impressive theater credentials, by the way), and to director Robert Lutfy.”



“[Young’s] text flows easily from one difficult idea to the next (he manages at one point to question war, responsibility, and art – individually – within eight simple lines) and does so in a clever manner and oddly playful setting: clowns squatting in modern suburban America.”

“Carol Lee Sirugo as Maria is quite magical to witness.”

“The designers all deserve a great deal of credit as well for their magnificent attention to detail. Scout Isensee’s costumes range from absurdly over-the-top clown, to a clearly articulated subtlety (the intense clown gets my laughs, but the subtlety – specifically of Tommy’s costume – gets the tip of my hat). Julian Evans’ sound design and Daniel Winters’ lighting working in tandem to accent much of the slapstick is sharp and effective, beautifully in sync with one another (and executed with great care by Stage Manager Bethany Ellen Clark). “

New York Fringe Festival Pick by Newyork.com, Amsterdam News, New York Times, and The New Jersey Record

The Village Voice:
Linda Leseman
August 14, 2013

"By contrast, Clown Play (at The C.O.W.), written by Paul David Young and directed by Robert Lutfy, is completely unconventional. The dark comedy begins with an existential monologue by a woman named Maria (Carol Lee Sirugo), who compares herself to “the indirect object,” the “acted-upon.” Following this, a motley crew of four burglar-clowns-turned-squatters assembles in an abandoned house. Their physical shenanigans at gunpoint are equal parts whimsy, perversion, and absurdity (several members of the cast are formally trained clowns). The script is intelligently bizarre: It’s Rob Zombie’s The Devil’s Rejects meets Marcel Marceau, and ultimately connects its disorienting components into an ode to clowning and the pain it sometimes masks."


Fringe Marathon: The Spider Tops Our Roundup of 10 Shows

By Linda Leseman Wednesday, Aug 14 2013

Last weekend kicked off the 17th year of the New York International Fringe Festival (aka FringeNYC), which runs through August 25. As with any such festival, when you choose what shows to see, you’re really rolling the dice. This two-week-long feast of all things performative offers shows by 185 theater troupes and dance companies from 13 countries and 17 U.S. states. The total number of performances is an overwhelming 1,200, and it all takes place in 20 downtown Manhattan venues.
This was my first attempt to see 10 Fringe events in a little over 48 hours. (In case you’re wondering, I’m very tired, and my legs are sore.) The measure of the festival’s success is probably not how many stellar shows there are but rather the ratio of pretty good ones to godawful bores. To the credit of FringeNYC, most of the performances I saw were of the former variety, and a couple were truly outstanding.

The most important thing, which I learned immediately, is that you should never, ever, under any circumstances arrive even one minute late to these things. FringeNYC is a well-oiled machine, with none of this leisurely holding the house open for an extra 10 minutes that you find on Broadway. If you arrive late—actually, if you don’t arrive early—you are S.O.L. Take note.
My weekend of theatrical madness began, perhaps appropriately, with Manic Pixie Dream Girl: A Graphic Novel Play at The Celebration of Whimsy (or the C.O.W.). The comedy by Katie May uses familiar graphic novel clichés (like big “Pow!” sound effects for bodily contact) to tell its story of Tallman, a frustrated artist who finds a muse in a mysterious mute woman who wanders into a bar and comes home to live with him. This title character, Lily, is explained as a “trope,” ironically, by the best-friend-in-a-bar stock personality functioning as the voice of reason: A “manic pixie dream girl” is a quirky girlfriend character that one knows nothing about “outside of the relevance to the dude’s life.” Think Kate Hudson in Almost Famous. However, what seems like a script constructed of such tropes takes a surprisingly poignant turn when Lily’s origins are revealed. A Starburst wrapper serves as an unlikely metaphor for a shift in perspective that’s as revelatory to the lead character as it is to the audience.

Another piece that relies on conventional characters and situations—but forgivably so—is The Awful Truth, a ’40s-style radio play presented at The Connelly by Gotham Radio Theatre. In this campy farce, five actors take on more roles than are even listed in the program in a silly I Love Lucy-esque romp about marriage and infidelity. The sound effects are created live onstage, and the cast should be applauded for their tightness as an ensemble as well as for their individual vocal versatilities.
By contrast, Clown Play (at The C.O.W.), written by Paul David Young and directed by Robert Lutfy, is completely unconventional. The dark comedy begins with an existential monologue by a woman named Maria (Carol Lee Sirugo), who compares herself to “the indirect object,” the “acted-upon.” Following this, a motley crew of four burglar-clowns-turned-squatters assembles in an abandoned house. Their physical shenanigans at gunpoint are equal parts whimsy, perversion, and absurdity (several members of the cast are formally trained clowns). The script is intelligently bizarre: It’s Rob Zombie’s The Devil’s Rejects meets Marcel Marceau, and ultimately connects its disorienting components into an ode to clowning and the pain it sometimes masks.
Talk to Me About Shame is a . . .

Clown Play
By Paul David Young; Directed by Robert Lutfy
FringeNYC, New Play
Runs through 8.24.13
C.O.W. Theater, 21 Clinton St.

by Greg Solomon on 8.13.13

BOTTOM LINE: Sometimes the best way to deal with a failing economy amongst personal and societal strife is to make a joke of it.
I went into Clown Play anticipating a dark, disturbing and potentially thought-provoking evening. It’s a rare occasion when the subversion of expectation is a welcome delight and what I encountered was just that. Indeed the treatment of ‘the financial crisis, professional clowning, performance theory, suburban architecture, gun control, religion, murder, substance abuse and burglary’ did indeed touch up on all of those issues and more, but with a degree of levity that was refreshing in the current age of sometimes cult-like protest via social media.

Clown Play alternates between two pairs of drifters trying to find a home to squat in and the monologues of the house’s owner. Tommy and Nancy (Joel Reuben Ganz and Emily James) are running away from what seems to be a dark secret in Tommy’s past. Barry (Ryan Barry) stumbles into the house with a semi-automatic and titillates the house’s current clown-fetishist squatter, Elisa (a delightful Marissa Molnar, who is exceedingly reminiscent of Parker Posey). Both couples spar, get it on, and then bump into one another post-coitus. When Elisa decides to kill Tommy for being a clown-hater (a sequence that brought to mind everything from Rodney King up to the current Zimmerman story), Tommy comes out of the closet as being a clown himself. Maria (Carol Lee Sirugo) arrives home from the ‘big house’ after murdering her ex and is at first appalled by the invaders, but eventually allows them all to stay and teach her to be a clown as well. It’s a strangely uplifting tale of misfits finding each other in a pre-post-economic apocalypse, if you will.
Paul David Young’s script is exceedingly clever, with one absolutely killer monologue for Maria in which she records a Christmas CD of her year in review -- the story of her recovery from alcoholism, falling in love with a man who drives away her children, and the death of her mother from cancer (it’s comic). Robert Lutfy’s direction is equally impressive. I found myself picking out a few sequences I’d have liked to have worked on myself back in my university days. The whole cast is pitch-perfect once one becomes attuned to the style of the piece.
To sum up, this is exactly the kind of thing theatre-goers look forward to fringe festivals for: Daring, entertaining and ultimately non-mainstream fare. Be warned there is a huge amount of sexual content (pun intended potentially), the spoilers of which I can’t even type without blushing.
(Clown Play plays at the C.O.W. Theater, 21 Clinton St., through August 24, 2013. Remaining performances are August 14th at 3PM; August 15th at 2PM; and August 24th at 9:30PM. Tickets are $15 in advance, $18 at the door and are available at fringenyc.org or by calling 866.468.7619. For more information visit clownplay.com.)


Thursday, August 15, 2013
'Clown Play': One of the Offbeat Treats of the New York International Fringe Festival

We’ve barely said farewell to the New York Musical Theater Festival when who should come strolling in but the New York International Fringe Festival, with its barrage of 185 shows in 16 days in over 20 different venues and time slots.

I don’t know how many of these I’ll be getting to, but let me begin with the first one I saw. It’s called Clown Play, whose playwright Paul David Young made something of a name for himself at the 2011 Fringe with In The Summer Pavilion, a play that imagines different possible futures for three friends. That play went on to an Off Broadway run at 59East59 and has since been turned into a film, set to be released in the coming year.

Whether Clown Play will follow that route remains to be seen, but what is clear is that Mr. Young is a talented wordsmith who is able to take seemingly disparate elements and coalesce them into a logical and unexpectedly sweet play (unexpected, since a semi-automatic weapon puts in a threatening appearance from time to time).

As Clown Play opens, we are face-to-face with a woman (the highly talented Carol Lee Sirugo) who waxes philosophic. “All is silence,” she begins, before going off on a Beckett-like ramble on matters of great significance, not unlike Lucky’s speech in Waiting for Godot.

Is she insane, we wonder, or a lost soul of some sort, trapped if not in Beckett Land, then maybe in Sartre Town or Kafka Village?

We will get answers, but not right away. Instead, the scene shifts to a man and a woman, Tommy (Joel Reuben Ganz) and Nancy (Emily James), who are floundering around in the dark, much frightened and feeling at risk of personal harm from someone or something in the unknown.

Again, the feeling of dread pervades. What kind of place is this? Could these characters be dead souls drifting around in Purgatory?

And finally, we are introduced to yet another couple, Barry (Ryan Barry, a Summer Pavilion alum) and Elisa (Marissa Molnar), who have set up housekeeping in an apparently abandoned home. Now things start to feel less like a ghost story and more like an all-too-real post-apocalyptic world, something, perhaps, like the one in Jules Feiffer’s Little Murders.

Teasingly, the play rotates among these characters in short scenes that we must take in before everything begins to make sense. One of the better ones is a perverse version of the ubiquitous Christmas letter (in this case, a video), a litany of life horrors recited by Ms. Sirugo’s character.

Just when we are questioning whether all this is leading anywhere beyond the suggestive and atmospheric, the characters start to interact with one another—at first with a not-surprising degree of suspicion (hence the semi-automatic weapon), but gradually warming until they loosen up and begin to meld into a cohort resembling the Tribe from Hair, a self-made family against all expectations.

And to what do they owe this dramatic change? Why, consider the title as you leave the theater having had a surprisingly good time.

And while it is Mr. Young’s writing skill that was able to turn seemingly random scenes into a real charmer of a play, much credit must go to the cast (all of whom have impressive theater credentials, by the way), and to director Robert Lutfy.

Clown Play is a little oddball, no doubt, but the production at the COW (Celebration of Whimsy) Theater on Clinton Street in the Lower East Side is well worth putting on your Fringe list. If that part of the city not your usual theatrical habitat, consider that it is just off Houston Street and only a couple of blocks from Katz’s Delicatessen. I recommend picking up a pastrami Reuben after the show, and pondering the magic of theater while you are eating it.


In The Summer Pavilion
59e59 Theater
October 18 - November 3, 2012

‘In the Summer Pavilion’ Imaginatively Peers Into Possible Futures

By Erik Haagensen | Posted Oct. 18, 2012, 7 p.m.

Paul David Young’s compassionate drama “In the Summer Pavilion” was a highlight of the 2011 New York International Fringe Festival. An imaginative exploration of the various possible futures for three close friends just one year out of college, it has moved on to an Off-Broadway run at 59E59 Theaters with a tweaked script (it runs 75 minutes now as opposed to an hour) and one cast replacement (Rachel Mewbron, in for the excellent Julia Taylor Ross). Though a bit hemmed in by the venue’s unforgiving black-box space, the show remains a quiet winner.

Handsome and wealthy Nabile, with Middle Eastern roots and masculinity issues, and the lovely Clarissa, a blond stunner who’s an artist, have been invited by insecure, unfocused, but rich Ben to visit him at his family’s deluxe summer home, which he has to himself. Though Ben is throwing a party, he’s hiding from it in the titular building, restless, out of sorts, and not sure that he made the right choice in bringing his friends to be with him. As first Clarissa and then Nabile come looking for him, the tensions and erotic connections among the three, who haven’t been together in nearly a year, become immediately apparent. Fueled by some LSD-laced vodka, they are soon hallucinating a variety of scenarios that their just-beginning adult lives might take. In each, two of the friends are romantically coupled, leaving the third one out in the cold. Relationship dynamics, professions, and accomplishments alter from vision to vision. In not one case are all three simultaneously happy.

What makes Young’s play so unusual is how each character comes into focus through the multiplicity of his or her possibilities. Kathy Gail MacGowan once again contributes empathic, perceptive direction that is at pains never to confuse. The performances are a joy. Meena Dimian is a cheerfully amoral, elegantly seductive Nabile who can turn hard on a dime. Mewbron excels at small but important adjustments that keep all of her Clarissas on the same page; she’s particularly good with the iteration in which Clarissa has given up painting to become a tightly wound art dealer. Ryan Barry is still a seriously sexy Ben, with Barry excelling at the character’s boyish vulnerability. The actor makes the scene in which Ben, newly out of rehab, decides to go off the grid and join a group of environmental revolutionaries deeply affecting.

Returning lighting designer Kia Rogers partners with new sound person Julian Evans to create the simple but immeasurably enhancing atmosphere, though the smaller space cramps their style just a bit. In particular, Young’s poetic and playful prologue, in which Ben breaks the fourth wall to toy directly with the audience, loses some of its sparkle.

But that’s a small quibble. Young’s play still movingly depicts, as I wrote before, “the shifting, halting, yet unlimited hopes of youth and the realities of circumscription that experience brings.” He has just finished directing its film adaptation, which will be released next year. I look forward to encountering this lovely work yet again on the screen.


October 23, 2012

After Princeton, Looking at Fickle Fates

In Paul David Young’s “In the Summer Pavilion,” three recent Princeton grads examine the road not taken. Actually, make that roads, plural, not taken, or at least not yet taken.

On a balmy summer night spent boozing and dropping acid, these unformed, impressionable adults get to live out their possible futures together and apart. In a series of scenes we see permutations of their friendships, sexual couplings, careers, financial fortunes and mental health status, apparently intended to show us the fickleness of fate.

It’s not a particularly original concept, but it comes off as less gimmicky than it could, thanks to Kathy Gail MacGowan’s careful direction and some finely drawn scenes. Yet even at 75 minutes, there are just too many of these parallel-universe futures to sit through. There’s not much to learn by the fifth iteration of the threesome’s lives, particularly since Mr. Young provides almost no information about what decisions landed them on the roads to these various futures in the first place.

Clarissa (Rachel Mewbron), an artistically inclined tease, and Nabile (Meena Dimian), a sometimes closeted Middle Eastern heir, are weakly developed, showing relatively little change from future to future except in career choice and positioning in the love triangle. Ben, the morose little grad lost, shows the most range, thanks to better writing and to the acting chops of Ryan Barry, who plays him.

The eerie, hypersensitive sound work, from Julian Evans, and domineering, almost cinematic lighting, from Kia Rogers, help the ambitious but sometimes rambling script cohere. Such technical finesse elevates the play from mediocre to slightly more memorable.


In the Summer Pavilion
by Bradley Troll on 11.20.10
Theater is Easy

BOTTOM LINE: A sexy, searing offering of the vast possibilities of life and love crafted by a sharp, poetic voice.

There’s a sort of call to action or, perhaps more accurately, a call to reflection upon leaving Paul David Young’s In the Summer Pavilion, presented by Go In Her Room Productions in association with WorkShop Theater Company. A soft, introspective elegance pervades the work and after a day or so, the show lingering in my mind, Young’s intentions start to become clear. The result is a surprising poignancy that manifests again and again on level after level the longer the play sits on the brain.
The plot is familiar. Three friends, Ben (Ryan Barry), Clarissa (Rachel Mewbron), and Nabile (Meena Dimian), enjoy each other’s company the night after college graduation, and as the classic coming-of-age story goes, they consider the many possibilities of their futures. But the reality of this night is heightened and poetic, and these futures, perhaps aided by the drugs and alcohol, come to vivid life. Possible future after possible future, their lives are taken in vastly different directions, but there is always the sense that they are inexorably linked. And by all accounts, this isn’t always a healthy thing.

The trio is anchored by Ben, the only character who seems able to lift this veil of alternate reality. Ben speaks to the audience and, in anticipation of our possible confusion, nearly chastises our need to look for characters on a stage to bring about catharsis. But he warns that the doors are locked, that they will keep us until they are done. It is this aspect ofPavilion that stays with you once the story has been told. Playwright Young is not telling the story of these three characters specifically; he is telling the story of friendship. He is telling all of our stories.
Interdependence, identity, and the confusion between friendship and love take center stage. These characters’s friendships were formed during the explorative playground of young adulthood, which has been tinged by sexual experimentation of all possible combinations of the three. In the first possible future, Ben and Clarissa are the two who have allowed friendship to give way to love. When Nabile arrives for a visit, he professes an attraction to, or perhaps even love of, Ben; Ben spurns his advances. In another possible future, Clarissa and Nabile are together; in another it is Ben and Nabile. With each different grouping, the characters’s lives, occupations, and mindsets are drastically different, and in each scenario, the characters flirt with heartbreak and betrayal.

Though there seems to be a slight sense that Ben and Clarissa possess the best possibility for romantic success, Young does not allow any judgments to be made. Ben hints at Clarissa’s metamorphosis into something that for whatever reason prevents their being together, but by the end of the play, the “costume” to which Ben initially refers is revealed to be the persona that each of us adopts as adults, meaning that perhaps at our young, idealistic college age we are truer to ourselves than we will be ever again.

Under the delicate direction of Kathy Gail MacGowan, Barry is a complex cacophony of neuroses and subtext. Barry’s Ben lives a constant struggle to be normal, to be young, to see his friends at their best. His interpretation of Ben is an optimist who is too plagued by pessimism to achieve any happiness. He’s far too internalized to ever actually connect with Mewbron’s artistic, ephemeral Clarissa or Dimian’s hedonistic, sly Nabile. MacGowan has shaped a world that gives the audience the knowledge that these friends undoubtedly belong together in some capacity but that romance will most likely lead to disaster. As a result, it’s as if we’re watching an impending collision in slow motion, and we leave only wishing we had the power to stop it.

And since there is no optimal outcome, it is easy to leave Pavilion wondering about the ultimate purpose. It might be tempting to dismiss Young’s explorative piece as anticlimactic or even self-indulgent, a showcase for his obvious artistry in language. But I would encourage the viewer to approach this piece with no preconceptions of the literal or the linear. This is play is reflective — reflective for the characters as well as the audience.

On the technical side, I would be remiss not to compliment that unsung theatrical hero, the stage manager. Bethany Ellen Clark’s detail in management is evident in the perfect execution of Kia Rogers’s lighting design and especially Julian Evans’s crisp, jarring sound design. On the nearly bare stage, these technical elements meld perfectly with Young’s script and, of course, MacGowan’s direction. The result is a hip, electric world for the skilled actors to explore.

But again, Young’s play will resonate long after the specifics of Ben, Clarissa, and Nabile’s story or the events in the play fade from memory. This work seeks to appeal to our nostalgia, the way we once saw the world only through possibilities and the way we look to those around us, at their best and their worst, and see a reflection of ourselves. Young’s words drip with the poetic reminder of who we once were and who we have the capacity to be.

The Advocate

In the Summer Pavilion
In Paul David Young’s ambitious and haunting drama, recent Princeton grads — one woman and two seemingly bisexual men — drop acid and hallucinate multiple futures for their sexually fluid trio, including every romantic pairing imaginable. With scruffy looks like an American Apparel underwear model, Ryan Barry is a standout as Ben, who seems happiest, albeit only briefly, in a gay relationship with Meena Dimian’s closeted Middle Eastern heir.
59E59 Theaters, through November 3.

Seeing the future in "In the Summer Pavilion"

T & B on the Aisle

The future lies before you like a summer sky when you’re fresh out of college. There are endless possibilities for you and your closest friends.

In “In The Summer Pavilion,” at 59E59 Theaters through November 3rd, those endless possibilities play out as alternate realities. Ben (Ryan Barry), Clarissa (Rachel Mewbron) and Nabile (Meena Dimian), friends just graduated from Princeton, come together like a sexy stew as “In The Summer Pavilion” begins their journey.

“Mr. Premonition here thinks he can see the future,” Nabile says. Ben is wary. “You two, you’re dangerous,” he tells them. Nabile answers him a little cryptically, “Take off your mask of sorrow and let the comedy play.”

In each scenario, Ben, Clarissa and Nabile pair off differently, as the play unfolds going forward seven years. There is a promise, unkept, of secrets being revealed. “A night full of adventure. Doors opening. Desires fulfilled. Secrets revealed,” Nabile says. Alas, they are not, but several likely outcomes are. “Do you sometimes have the feeling that we’ve been here before?”

Paul David Young’s play is rich in imagery; it teases with snippets of poetic philosophizing, and offers a satisfying amount of adventure.

“No, be a jerk. Say the uncomfortable thing. I’m ready for it now.” Ben says. “I am young/ Unripened hope.”

“In The Summer Pavilion” is an intriguing work. The acting under Kathy Gail MacGowan’s direction is charming and natural. Everything– sexuality, career paths, partners– is up for grabs. All of it is an a wild ride. We should probably take Nabile’ s advice and get out the Ouija board.

Bonus points for having the playwright, Paul David Young, in the audience. Young adapted and 
directed his screenplay for “In The Summer Pavilion,” which is due to be released in 2013.
For more information about “In The Summer Pavilion,” visit www.59e59.org.

Reality Washes Past (and Future) In The Summer Pavilion

ReviewsoffBroadway Oct. 22, 2012
In The Summer Pavilion is a fascinating journey across possible realities, imported to 59E 59 from the NY Fringe Festival.it is a simple story told with sincerity….In The Summer Pavilion is directed by Kathy Gail MacGowan, and it is she who tells the complex story straightforward and clearly. Some people will question the lack of resolution in the show, all the possibilities are presented but there is no indication of which comes to pass. Others will enjoy the ambiguity and the message that we are the designers of our own fate. Personally, I wanted Ben’s life to turn out well, I hope he made the right choices.

In The Summer Pavilion

John Peacock, Flavorpill

“Ben, Nabile, and Clarissa, three Princeton students on vacation at a summer house in Maine, drop acid after having a threesome and experience the countless possibilities the future holds in store for them. The cast of In the Summer Pavilion are thrillingly versatile, convincingly playing multiple ages and sexualities in each version of their adult lives. By keeping Ben and Nabile’s sexuality fluid, the story allows an exploration of all three of the friends ending up as couples with one person always left out. The show is a clever and unpredictable look at the fallout from past intimacy.”

In The Summer Pavilion
NY Fringe Festival
August, 2011

Backstage.com “CRITIC’S PICK”!!!
Review: 'In the Summer Pavilion'
Go in Her Room Productions at the Living Theatre as part of the New York International Fringe Festival

Reviewed by Erik Haagensen
AUGUST 14, 2011

photo by Paul Young

Paul David Young has written a deceptively quiet winner with his new one-hour one-act, "In the Summer Pavilion." Set on an alcohol- and LSD-fueled summer night in the titular location, three 20-something friends experience a multiplicity of futures that might be theirs in shared hallucinations. Surprisingly straightforward, richly compassionate, and directed with clarity and intelligence by Kathy Gail MacGowan, the show is an early highlight of the Fringe.

Young shows an impressive awareness of both the shifting, halting, yet unlimited hopes of youth and the realities of circumscription that experience brings. His characters—the rich but unfocused and insecure Ben (Ryan Barry); the mercurial, confident, also wealthy Nabile (Meena Dimian) who has masculinity issues; and the artistic, self-contained, yet loyal Clarissa (Julia Taylor Ross), whose drive is the strongest—accrete into complex beings as much through the differences in their possible futures as through their similarities. All three actors do excellent work, with the shaggily sexy Barry getting to show the greatest range, including a strong delivery of Young's intriguing and enticing prologue.

A final shout out to lighting designer Kia Rogers and sound designer Kristyn R. Smith, whose clean, simple work, limited by the primitive Living Theatre venue, nevertheless immeasurably supports and enhances the proceedings.


Fringe Festival report: 'Greenland' breaks the ice; 'Pavilion' deserves Maine-stream audience

Friday, August 26th 2011

The New York International Fringe Festival, which wraps up its 15th season Sunday, deserves dings for some of the weaker shows it puts on stage. But there are also always gems. Finding them is the trick.

Happily, two wonderfully realized works have helped reaffirm my faith in stage samplers. Both have completed their runs, but deserve a mention.

Ice figures prominently in "Greenland," Nicolas Billon's quietly disarming drama from Canada about a family cracked apart by a fatal accident. It clinks in a glass, fires up a dedicated glacialist and mirrors the frozen heart of an unhappy wife.

. . .

Ryan Barry and Julia Taylor Ross at a "Summer" retreat. (Paul Young)

Paul David Young's hour-long one-act "In the Summer Pavilion," likewise boasts an achy and richly observant story and a talented ensemble.

Set in Maine at a wealthy kid's family warm-weather retreat and propelled by a potent cocktail of liquor laced with LSD, the plot follows three Ivy Leaguers. That includes the unsure Ben (Ryan Barry, remarkably deft), arty Clarissa (Julia Taylor Ross) and bossy Nabile (Meena Dimian), whose ever-entwined futures unfold in a series of dream sequences. Those fantasies play out intriguingly in Kathy Gail MacGowan's unfussy staging.

Young, a New York writer, displays an understanding of human behavior. Triangles are tricky; inevitably someone gets left out in the cold.

Once he's past his intentionally starchy prologue, the playwright also shows a keen ear for everyday dialogue.

With one exception: Nabile's "Gatsby"-esque habit of addressing Ben as "my boy" jarred every time he said it.


In the Summer Pavilion
nytheatre.com review

FringeNYC Festival Review
Jo Ann Rosen
August 13, 2011
Edginess pervades this 70-minute drama, focusing on the vagaries of the future and the fear of not measuring up to expectations.”
“The playwright has written smart characters and arms them with lyrical vocabulary, challenging arguments, and insatiable demands as weapons against their competition. Of course, they are each other’s competition.”
Kathy Gail MacGowan directs the superb cast with a firm hand. Meena Dimian is suave and resourceful as Nabile. His character is first to step up to the plate in the pavilion and announce, ‘Let the games begin.’ Is this the game of life? Who among them will be winners? Nabile is a gambler and comfortable with the odds he’s been dealt. He is a world traveler. Clarissa, played by the lovely Julia Taylor Ross, grows from earthily appealing in the pavilion to elegant, sharp-tongued, and unapproachably elite. Ryan Barry plays Ben with all the insecurities of a recent grad, unsure of what he wants and where he will go.”
“Kia Rogers's lighting is downright magic. In one scene, Ben’s right eye looks positively evil. Sound designer Kristyn R. Smith employs artful transitions between scenes. This is an unusual play that requires some thought. It’s worth seeing.


In the Summer Pavilion

In its own way, Paul David Young's In the Summer Pavilion is a perfect little play. Its premise is psychologically intriguing: What if there were multiple futures and you could see them all at once? The response to this question is surreally teased out in Young's 90-minute drama. The action begins when three recent Princeton grads drop acid on one wild Maine night and hallucinate their futures. They bend time, unleash ambitions, and rearrange themselves into new futuristic situations. This is a noirish comedy that allows the audience to witness the wreckage of dreams fulfilled-in-a-hurry. As you accompany this trio down their yellow brick road to success, you will likely recall that old maxim: Be careful what you wish for. Not only do these hedonistic characters immediately get to live in their mail-order futures, they enter a bizarre love triangle that works hetero-, homo-, and bi-sexually. Tautly directed by Kathy Gail MacGowan, this play is one terrifying comedy. Meena Dimian, as Nabile, creates a thoroughly slick mixture of intellectual schmaltz and all-American bonhomie. Ryan Barry, as Ben, is insecurity personified, albeit with a charming flair. And the pretty Julia Taylor Ross, as Clarissa, is impeccably poised as the colossally successful art dealer. This play tells the future with Freudian density and a phantasmagoric air. A Bacchanalian feast crossed with a coming-of-age rite, this disquieting work will make you stop yearning for magic bullets and instant results. Let us have more Young. At Living Theatre. 90 minutes. [Donovan]


Paul David Young's In the Summer Pavilion Will Make World Premiere at FringeNYC

By Michael Gioia
25 Jul 2011

Paul David Young
Go In Her Room Productions in association with The Present Company will present the world premiere of In the Summer Pavilion, a new play by Paul David Young, beginning Aug. 13 at the Living Theater as part of the 15th Annual New York International Fringe Festival (FringeNYC).

In the Summer Pavilion, directed by Kathy Gail MacGowan, runs through Aug. 22 and features a cast that includes Meena Dimian, Ryan Barry and Julia Taylor Ross.

"A party at a summer house in Maine turns serious when a vulnerable young man is seduced by his two college friends, one male, the other female, into a frightening game under the influence of LSD," according to press notes. "In the Summer Pavilion hurtles him repeatedly forward in time to see multiple selves and futures, any of which could be his. The hedonism and ambiguous sexuality of their idealistic youth twist in their love triangle as they witness what is yet to come."

Villiage Voice
The Arts
The New York Fringe Fest: Cocaine-Snorting Juliet Meets Japanese Electra
By C.C. Kellogg Tue., Aug. 23 2011

Philosophically Bent Piece
Highlight: In the Summer Pavilion

Inspired by German philosopher Reinhart Koselleck, Paul David Young's poetic script explores the (possible) futures of three recent college grads, portrayed by a talented young cast. Meena Dimian's Nabile is dangerously charming in each of his many incarnations, and Julia Taylor Rose's Clarissa morphs seamlessly from idealistic college student into jaded professional and back again. But Ryan Barry's Ben stands out most in his infectiously anxious vitality. Kia Roger's lighting is also noteworthy: She defines half a dozen decades and spaces with ease, no small feat considering the limited light board.




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NewARTtheatre: Evolutions of the Performance Aesthetic
by Jess Wilcox

Paul David Young, ed.
NewARTtheatre: Evolutions of the Performance Aesthetic
(PAJ Publications, 2014)

While many familiar with the long and fluctuating relationship between the visual arts and theater may be dubious of the choice of “new” in this publication’s title—artists from the Dadas to Rauschenberg have employed theatrical tropes in their work—its pages capture the questions and concerns of a particular and unique moment within this fraught history. As the editor Paul David Young recognizes in his introduction, in the past 10 to 15 years work in the nexus of art and theater has gained a new level of traction. For the first time, arts institutions have given significant space to present, collect, teach, and critically consider this hybrid practice, in turn highlighting artists working in this manner, which was previously either neglected or disdained.

This collection presents conversations Young initiated with artists who work in the union of visual arts and theater, covering topics ranging from authorship and alienation to embodiment and the social conditions of making. In his introduction Young posits theater as a “tool box” from which contemporary artists can appropriate, and the following chapters focus on these methodologies in dialogues with single artists or groups of artists.

The chosen artist groupings strengthen this examination of tools of the theatrical trade. In the conversation “The Rebirth of Character,” Young pairs artists who came to prominence in the ’80s—John Jesurun and Michael Smith—with artists of the ’90s—Elisabeth Subrin and Joe Scanlan, whose work may otherwise be lumped under the dated epithet of identity politics. Through inquiry into shared interest in the character as vessel, narrative reliability, and repetition, the former artists’ work gains a new perspective. The generational range of artists discussed suggests the pervasiveness of the art/theater work and point to an emerging genealogy.

Although only one conversation directly states process as the topic, the temporal unfolding of the work under the often conflicting guidance of many collaborators appears in multiple chapters. What rises to the surface is a simultaneous interest in and ambivalence toward participatory work in which behavior and subjectivities are scrutinized. For these artists theater proves a natural platform with a deep history and its own set of parameters with which to experiment and dismantle. Interestingly, questions of institutional, social, and economic power seem to be the undercurrents that seem to drive a lot of this work, yet are only touched on briefly. Since the majority of these conversations were presented by institutions in front of live audiences, one wonders how they may have evolved differently conducted in the privacy of correspondence.

It seems a lost opportunity that recent scholarly contributions such as Claire Bishop’s definition of delegated performance or Shannon Jackson’s perspective on social practice and civic engagement are merely mentioned rather than probed, expanded, or challenged. Instead, NewARTtheatre’s greatest value may be that of a historical document of the understanding of a specific set of performance practices in its own time of making. The fresh and speculative perspective of these artists grappling with the evolving paradigm of the tightening entanglement between performance and visual artist is worth a read now and may be rich material for historians to come.
Jess Wilcox

Jess Wilcox is Programs Coordinator at the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum. She has worked on curatorial projects at SculptureCenter, Abrons Art Center, the International Studio and Curatorial Program, Performa, Storm King Art Center, among others. Her interests include translation, performativity, and personal and political identity.