On 9/11 journalist Thomas F. Flynn rode his bicycle right into the disaster area, ot knowing what was going to happen but suddenly a witness to all of it. In order to both write about it accurately, cathartically, and still give himself enough emotional distance to keep the recollections from being overwhelming, he chose to write his chronicle in the form of an epic poem. “Bikeman,” some on the street called him, quick identification that needed no name when they needed to get his attention. And that became the name of his book.
Now, at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center, located within the Borough of Manhattan Community College, perhaps literally in the shadow of the new World Trade towers, Bikeman les somewhere between a staged recitation and a play, adapted by the author and his director, Michael Bush.
I find it almost impossible to review in any typical sense, because how it strikes you may be as personal as your memories and associations of that tragic day. I found myself at something of a distance from it; my significant other was almost immediately in tears. It would not be inaccurate to say that both responses are intended.
What I can say is that it’s a somber piece, unleavened by even flashes of the kind of mordant humor people indulge in to release tension. This is an as-it-happened account in which such was too soon because the event was so big and the realization of our vulnerability so stark. On a stage that is bare in affect but gives us a backdrop reminiscent of blue World Trade Tower windows, a cast of five deliver the prose-poem. Robert Cuccioli, normally a musical theatre man, brings his sense of rhythm and phrasing to bear as the author, in a manner both sincerely colloquial yet reminiscent of Greek tragedy. Others in the cast (Elizabeth Ramos, Richard Topol, Irungu Mutu, Angela Pierce) are identified in the program as “Neighborhood Woman”, “Ambulance Man” etc. but really each represents the collective archetype of many.
It’s paced well, done cleanly, and over in 50 minutes. And what you make of it is of more than a little interest to the creative team and cast, as regular post-performance talkbacks have been instituted for their having gotten the sense that the audience actually needs to respond a bit, in the context of remembering, healing or just de-pressurizing. It’s as full an evening as any in New York.
Go to David Spencer's Profile
Return to Home Page