by Walter Mosley
Directed by Marshall Jones III

by Mac Rogers
Directed by Jordana Williams

Reviewed by David Spencer

Lift is thriller novelist Walter Mosley’s play about two African-American office workers, a man and a woman, trapped in a stalled elevator when their building, implicitly a World Trade style tower, is under terrorist attack. Mosley is too much of an old pro to write ineptly or uninterestingly, but he’s also not naturally enough of a theatre man to catch those moments in which dialogue or situations that can pass muster in a novel—for being in the reader’s mind, for accessing abstract perception, for prose energy contributing to verisimilitude—can seem silly and over-the-top when dramatized. Lift has its moments, but it too often veers into absurdity; as if for all Mr. Mosley’s efforts to write a serious play, everything is filtered through the sensibility of a mildly lurid Gold Medal paperback original. It doesn’t help that the uneven direction by Marshall Jones III leaves his principal actors, Biko Eisen-Martin and MaameYaa Boafo, unsupported and at sea with the more difficult, melodramatic transitions.

            All in all, a bit of a downer…

A much better thriller, in the same 59E59 complex, is Mac RogersAsymmetric, a tasty, twisty little espionage entry, all done with a quartet of actors and an impressively efficient, if perhaps not ingenious, use of a "postage-stamp" playing space. Director Jordana Williams does justice to the text, the pace and the mood—but it does, alas, require an extra few ergs in the suspension-of-disbelief department to buy into the male members of the emnsemble; none of the three truly rings authentic: playing the nominal hero—a dissheveled outcast but still a brilliant analyst—is a guy who's kind of strait-laced and lowdown, but hardly evokes the likes of Charlie Muffin, in whose shadow he exists; the guy as the division head is simply too young and too callow—he has no mileage on him. And the guy playing the mercenary interrogator-torturer who seems to enjoy it—he's quippy and bitchy and mean-tempered—but not danerous or volatile enough to be frightening. You give them a pass, because they have conviction and understand the gig, at the level of smart, committed community theatre. But only Kate Middleton, as the pawn in the game, has the real juice. Still, as they say, "at these prices" … it's a very decent little diversion. And taut: 80 minutes, no mish.

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