Just Do Art, Week of Jan. 22, 2015

Former fifth-grade classmates reunite, in an actual East Village apartment. The immersive, interaction-optional party play happens through Feb. 8, at a location revealed only to ticket buyers.  Photo by Kacey Stamats

Former fifth-grade classmates reunite, in an actual East Village apartment. The immersive, interaction-optional party play happens through Feb. 8, at a location revealed only to ticket buyers. Photo by Kacey Stamats

BY SCOTT STIFFLER

MRS. MAYFIELD’S FIFTH-GRADE CLASS OF ‘93 20-YEAR REUNION
Created in collaboration with the original 2013 cast — five of whom got back together for this current production — this self-professed “party play” has its own tale to tell about the reunion of a once-tight ensemble. “When you’re in fifth grade, childhood becomes more complicated,” says playwright Mariah MacCarthy, who grafts that loss-of-innocence theme onto a group of thirtysomething former school chums who assemble in an East Village apartment for an evening of revelations, romance and reassessment. With bellies warmed by chili and inhibitions lowered by beer, this immersive class reunion lets you wander the apartment, soak in the proceedings and participate according to your personal comfort level (a red name tag means “Don’t talk to me,” while a green one gives the “go” signal for interaction). Emotionally epic and physically intimate (only 15 audience members at each performance), this unabashed display of adults reverting to their childhood (and childish!) selves doesn’t shy away from conflict — but knows when to call a time out and take an awesome 90s music dance break.

Performances through Feb. 8. Thurs.–Sun. at 8 p.m. in an East Village apartment (exact location and directions provided upon ticket purchase). For reservations ($18), visit brownpapertickets.com. For info on the play, visit capslocktheatre.com.

Wherefore art thou? Indoors, for a change, when Shakespeare in the Square brings its “Romeo and Juliet” to The Gym at Judson.  Courtesy of Shakespeare in the Square

Wherefore art thou? Indoors, for a change, when Shakespeare in the Square brings its “Romeo and Juliet” to The Gym at Judson. Courtesy of Shakespeare in the Square

THE TRAGEDY OF ROMEO AND JULIET
Founded in 2010 by NYU Tisch School of the Arts freshmen Dan Hasse and Rose Bochner, Shakespeare in the Square has grown by leaps and bounds — while never straying far from their academic stomping grounds or the original Elizabethan staging practices that typify this youthful ensemble’s back-to-basics approach. “Our hope is to blow the dust of Shakespeare’s plays and revive the bear-baiting, beer-drinking rowdiness of Elizabethan theatre,” says Hasse, whose company makes their Off-Broadway debut at The Gym at Judson. Equally auspicious is the fact that they’ll be indoors this time (Washington Square Park has provided a venue four years running, and they’ll be back when the weather improves). Based on text from the 1623 First Folio collection of Shakespeare plays, this fast and accessible production (“The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet”) has its small company of four men and one woman interacting with some of the audience members.

Through Feb. 8. Tues., Thurs., Sat. & Sun. at 8 p.m. Fri. at 7 p.m. & 10 p.m., with matinees every Sun. at 2 p.m. $15 student matinees on Mon., Jan. 26 & Feb. 2 at 10:30 a.m. At The Gym at Judson (243 Thompson St. | btw. South Washington Square & 3rd St.). Tickets: $45. For $75, seating up front gets you one drink and the opportunity to interact with the characters. Reservations at shakespeareinthesquare.com.

A karaoke bar is your fourth and final stop, when the audience joins a cast of intersecting characters at “The Golden Toad.”  Photo by Suzanne Opton

A karaoke bar is your fourth and final stop, when the audience joins a cast of intersecting characters at “The Golden Toad.” Photo by Suzanne Opton

TALKING BAND presents THE GOLDEN TOAD
Now in its 40th year — having created over 50 original works while making stops at stalwart spaces including PS122, Theater for the New City, Dance Theater Workshop, The Ohio Theater, The Flea Theater and HERE Arts Center — Talking Band can hardly be accused of failing in their commitment to “radical collaboration and a fusion of diverse theatrical styles and perspectives.” If only the same confident sense of self could be said for the shifting, searching characters who populate “The Golden Toad.” Asking “Where is the ‘real’ person to be found in the ebb and flow of identity?” more out of curiosity than the need for a definitive answer, “Toad” unifies site-specific works undertaken over the past few years: at a townhouse garden in downtown Brooklyn, on a bus tour of the New Jersey Meadowlands, and in a pop-up thrift store. This La MaMa production moves its audience through reimagined versions of those locations — then concludes at the titular Golden Toad karaoke bar, where all the characters’ lives finally intersect for an evening of revelation and transformation.

Jan. 23–Feb. 7, at La MaMa’s Ellen Stewart Theatre (66 E. 4th St. | btw. Bowery & 2nd Ave.). Jan. 23, 26, 28, 29, 30 & Feb. 4–6 at 7 p.m. Jan. 24, 31 & Feb. 7 at 2 p.m. Jan. 25 & Feb. 1 at 4 p.m. Additional Mon. performance, Jan. 26 at 7 p.m. Tickets: $25 ($20 for students & seniors). Reservations: call 646-430-5374 or visit lamama.org. For artist info, visit talkingband.org.

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