Off-Off-Broadway: OCCASIONALLY NOTHING (Theater for the New City)

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by Gregory Bernard on May 12, 2021

in Theater-New York

Life, the play says, is the time in between
the sometimes which sometimes happen.
Is that post-truth enough for you?

Brad Fryman.

It was inevitable, perhaps, that post-truth politics would seep into 21st century absurdist theater. One sunny example is Occasionally Nothing by Natalie Menna, which takes us to an upsetting time-to-come when something can become a profound, obvious nothing. Life becomes the time in between the sometimes which sometimes happen. The piece was presented in Theater for the New City’s Dream Up Festival in 2018. Theater for the New City will present the piece fully staged from June 4 to 20. Ivette Dumeng directs.

Sean Hoagland, Brad Fryman.

The short two-act play is set in the foreseeable future, when the world is nearing its end. An older man, a young man and a woman, all British expats, are sheltering from nearby bomb blasts in a bleak room. They cope by taunting each other with warped games of verbal wordplay and by blurring each other’s realities while losing touch with their own. The older man is the uncle of the younger man, who is a punk rocker. The woman, wife of the older man, is a former West End dancer who’s lost her marbles and thinks she was a Rockette. The trio’s ordeal is meant to offer a rarified, deathly glimpse at life in a dystopian era, when wars abound and words have lost their meaning. Playwright Natalie Menna has written that the play reflects the lack of distinction between fact and fiction that would characterize a country’s slide into authoritarianism.

Two actors of TNC’s Dream Up Festival production are returning: Sean Hoagland as the younger man and Brad Fryman as the older man.

Maiken Wiese.

photos by Jonathan Slaff

Occasionally Nothing
Theater for the New City, 155 First Avenue
Thurs-Sat at 8; Sun at 3
June 4 to 20, 2021
for tickets ($18), call (212) 254-1109 or visit Theater for the New City
running time: 70 minutes

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