Welcome: This is a Neighborhood Watch Community
THIS AND THAT
By Janet Langsam
A shoestring is that long skinny sort of a ribbon that grounds your shoes. It is also used to describe theater in Westchester…or most anywhere except Broadway. Many, perhaps most small theatres are shoestring operations. You wouldn’t necessarily know that sitting in the audience. It doesn’t really show. That’s because of the behind the scene magicians like Howard Meyer of the Axial Theatre, Denise Bessette of the Hudson Stage Company and Tal Aviezer of the Red Monkey Theater. They work hard to pull off a very slick production. But, it’s just a fact of life for actors, playwrights and directors when trying to keep theater alive as part of the mix of outstanding cultural activities available in Westchester.
Last Saturday night, I relived my children’s teenage years at the Axial Theatre. The play “Welcome, This is a Neighborhood Watch Community” was written by Howard Meyer, a former actor, director, now playwright, who has a long pedigree in theatre working with the Lincoln Center, Manhattan Theatre Club and the New York Theatre Workshop, and with the likes of Kevin Spacey and Athol Fugard. Wearying of the city, he is now one of the talents we can claim as ours. The play, you guessed it, is about parents and their teenage son dancing around issues of self discovery and the family chaos it wreaks; great ambitions, success and how these affect family values; and mentoring, as in “Who is fit to do it?” and “What does a teenager need from a role model?” If you still have a sense of humor left after you raise you’ve kids, you’ll howl at the father, played by David Deblinger when he says: “ I’m a parent, son, and when you’re a parent….we’re capable of some extremely bizarre behavior when it comes to our kids.” It’s a fun evening.
The play takes place all around the audience in several parts of the massive church space. Josh Hecht, the director, I am told, likes to break down boundaries between the actors and the audience. He succeeds. If you close your eyes, you can feel like you are in Greenwich Village of the ‘60s, only closer to home. Axial Theatre, does two productions a year on its modest $55,000 annual budget. You have eight more chances to see this fully professional production where the actors, director, lighting designer all get paid. It’s no shoestring when it comes to being fully professional and insightful.