Off-Off-Broadway Theater Review: P.S. JONES AND THE FROZEN CITY (The New Ohio Theater)

by Sarah Taylor Ellis on December 13, 2012

in Theater-New York

JONESING FOR MORE PIG SHIT

Sarah Taylor Ellis’ Stage and Cinema review of terraNOVA Collective’s P.S. Jones and the Frozen CityEarly in terraNOVA Collective’s comic book adventure P.S. Jones and the Frozen City, the villainous Great Glass Spider spins out of the wall. The regal Sofia Jean Gomez sits atop a wheeled office chair as the spider’s body; two black-clad puppeteers hunch on either side, extending the spider’s large angular legs to the floor. Every articulation of the limbs is striking, every movement and gesture cleanly coordinated.

When the Spider wended her way back into the wall for the first time on opening night, the audience spontaneously burst into applause. This was not some high-flying special effect from a brand name Broadway show such as, oh, Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark.  P.S. Jones and the Frozen City flies at you with a much more fun, homespun theatrical punch.

Sarah Taylor Ellis’ Stage and Cinema review of terraNOVA Collective’s P.S. Jones and the Frozen CityRobert Askin’s script is a deliciously goofy, episodic homage to comics and genre fiction. The wide-eyed young Pig Shit Jones (Joe Paulik) – so called because he shovels manure for a living – is whisked away from his small town life by the ghost of a great Gunslinger (Steven Rishard). With the help of a disembodied hand that bounces about the stage like a puppy, can Pig Shit and his partner save the city from another apocalypse, or – at the very least – rescue his dandy of a brother Benjamin (Preston Martin) from the Spider’s web?

Sarah Taylor Ellis’ Stage and Cinema review of terraNOVA Collective’s P.S. Jones and the Frozen CityThe overarching narrative is unclear at moments, but no matter: Jones’ journey to the frozen city is exciting at every turn. P.S. Jones thrives on versatile ensemble performances by Gomez, Paulik, Rishard, Martin, Bobby Moreno, Jess Sumner, and Jenny Seastone Stern as a wacky array of characters; innovative puppets designed by Eric Wright and manned by Wright, Katey Parker, and Chloe Moser; and immersive video game-like projections by Alex Koch and Kate Freer.

Jose Zayas’ direction plays most scenes at a fever pitch with quick and clever quips to the audience, but the play manages to work in a few poignant moments with P.S. Jones’ Momma (the versatile Gomez again). This earthy papier-mâché puppet woman gives the show occasional grounding and even social purpose, addressing the sharp divide between the haves (The Great Glass Spider and cohort) and the have-nots (P.S. Jones and family).

By the show’s dynamic end, P.S. Jones seems primed for another adventure. I would gladly tune in for another episode.

Sarah Taylor Ellis’ Stage and Cinema review of terraNOVA Collective’s P.S. Jones and the Frozen City

photos by Jill Steinberg Photography
poster design by Christy Briggs, illustrations by Peter Shevenell

P.S. Jones and the Frozen City
terraNOVA Collective at The New Ohio Theater in New York City
scheduled to end on December 23, 2012
for tickets, call 917-639-3166 or visit Brown Paper Tickets

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