Off-Off-Broadway Theater Review: THE NOMAD (The Bats at The Flea Theater)

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by Dmitry Zvonkov on March 1, 2015

in Theater-New York


Nomad6-IsaiahTanenbaumPAlways charming and energized, The Bats (the resident company of The Flea Theater) put forth yet another valiant effort, this time with the world premiere of The Nomad, with book and lyrics by Elizabeth Swados and Erin Courtney. Had Swados (Runaways) and Courtney (A Map of Virtue) managed to write something worthwhile perhaps the company’s work wouldn’t have been for naught. As is, the co-authors’ bio musical about the short life of Swiss-born Isabelle Eberhardt—who moved to North Africa at 19, converted to Islam, dressed like a man, worked as a writer and journalist, navigated Arab and French societies, explored the desert, and died in a flash flood at 27—is so artless, facile, and drama-free, the performers never stand a chance.


Not surprisingly, it is the composer of the lackluster score, Ms. Swados, who also directs this 70 minutes of tedium. Her choice of Teri Madonna for the lead role of Isabelle is puzzling considering Ms. Madonna’s underwhelming vocal skills; also bizarre is her decision to have Ms. Madonna smile for most of her performance. Besides the actors’ efforts, also wasted are Ani Taj’s effective choreography and Lydia Fine’s simple yet evocative costumes. At the conclusion of the performance the cast makes a little shrine out of items from Isabelle’s life—swords, a hookah, a fez. The last of these is a photo of the real Ms. Eberhardt. And as I look at her remarkable, defiant, fascinating face, it makes me hate this show all the more.


Additional cast: Kyra Atekwana, Tommy Bernardi, Sydney Blaxill, Matthew Bovee, Glenna Grant, Ryan Neal Green, Michael Lapinsky, Mike Nelson, Neil Redfield, Dave Resultan, Ben Schrager, Ryan Stinnett.


Nomad3-IsaiahTanenbaumPphotos by Isaiah Tanenbaum

The Nomad
The Flea Theater, 41 White St
ends on April 6, 2015
for tickets, call 212-352-3101
or visit The Flea

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