With the Dream Up Festival at Theater For The New City in full swing, one of the more anticipated productions this season has been “Finishing The Suit,” by Canadian playwright Lawrence Aranovitch.
The 75 minute, one-act play which received rave reviews in Canada earlier this year in its first production by the Bear & Company theatre group, was described by critics (among other superlatives) as a sweet, romantic, and nostalgic tale. Turns out the critics were right.
This new production, which aims to continue its run after the festival ends, is directed by Joan Kane (SDC) and features Daniel Lugo*, Ryan Clardy*, and Jason Asher* (*all courtesy of AEA) as the three central characters. It is one of the better acted festival pieces I’ve seen this Summer and really impresses.
As the Tailor, Lugo exudes a sort of sad longing for those touching moments in his life that comes across as heartbreaking, tender, and memorable all at once. As an accomplished tailor, his greatest but perhaps most complicated client was the Duke of Windsor, the former King of England (Jason Asher), who abdicated his throne for the love of an American woman he eventually married. For the Tailor, the Duke seems to have so resonance to his life’s story, that he admits he loves the man, perhaps in a way that gives him a sort of vulnerable joy that goes beyond the romantic. Yes, the Tailor is gay and it’s a curse he carries, given the period in history that the story inhabits, and the fact that the Tailor is a conservative Jew. Still, he is who he is, and he challenges the expectations society has imposed by the sheer power of embracing his own nature. Nonetheless, he seems to carry the burden of not being able to make his father happy along the way, and now when he needs love the most, it has evaded him. Where the Duke doesn’t fulfill the Tailor’s longing, he turns to Jimmy (Ryan Clardy), a Northern Irish dancer and performer who was a friend, confidant, and lover. Both the Duke and Jimmy prove to be complex and difficult in their own way, but somehow the lovelorn Tailor, in a moment of pining, retrospect, and emotional surrender, channels them back. For the first time it seems, he is finally able to grapple with his love for these two long-gone loves and interact with their “ghosts” in a way that can be very healing, or destrucive. All three are thrown together in this dreamlike moment to find their true place in the Tailor’s heart.
Lugo has an expressive and strangely touching aspect to his presence on stage. His portrayal of this character was enjoyable and different. Ryan Clardy as Jimmy is charming, smooth, hurt, and very much loving to the Tailor in a way that makes it clear why he so dearly missed. As the Duke, John Asher creates a wonderful character that is complex and believable, even at moments that are clearly playing out in the Tailor’s mind. Clean, simple, and very effective direction of these very talented men by Joan Kane pulls the action together beautifully. The simple set and straight forward lighting and music works perfectly with the material, and you feel like you are pulled into a moment in time, not so much in the Tailors head, but in his heart. The costumes by Cat Fisher are as much a character in this production, as well as a set. Overall the feel of this festival production is magical, dream-like, and memorable.
Crystal Field (Artistic Director, Theater For The New City) and Ego Actus founders and co-creative directors, Joan Kane and Bruce A! Kramer, debuted the Actor’s Equity Association-approved showcase, “Finishing The Suit” yesterday, Tuesday, September 5th at 6:30PM at TNC. It runs for a total of five performances, September 6th, 7th, 9th, and 10th, 2017.
All performances will take place at The Community Theater, located at Theater For The New City, 155 1st Avenue, New York, NY 10003, between 9th and 10th Streets.
Running time is 75 Minutes
Cost of Tickets: $20.
Tickets can be purchased online at: http://tix.smarttix.com/Modules/Sales/SalesMainTabsPage.aspx?ControlState=1&SalesEventId=6801&DC=
Or by calling the SmartTix at 212-868-4444