Temptation and Other Sins written by: Lyle Kessler directed by: Shira-Lee Shalit
Theater: Latea Theater / The Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural & Educational Center, 107 Suffolk St, New York, NY 10002
Review by: Nusrat Hossain Ria
Temptation and Other Sins was a staged reading, but quickly the script seemed to disappear thanks to committed and powerful performances by a thoroughly enjoyable cast.
This project was composed of five one-act plays. The first was a strange encounter between two patients in a medical ward – played by Christina Toth and Max Hunter. Very well-played. Sarah (Toth) is a suicidal girl who is in the medical ward for multiple tries of suicide and self-harm; YM (Hunter) is in the ward for believing he is turning to wood. This is so he may no longer be responsible nor have human emotions. That is, until he meets Sarah. Their love story and dynamic was stirring and – I am not alone – engrossing. Putting a face to mental illness is gaining great ground and this play helps lead that charge.
The second act featured Dennis, an obituary writer, and an old woman who happens to be Dennis’s celebrity crush is disguise. This witty skit managed to have the whole theater roaring with laughter. Margaret Ladd plays the old woman and Jack Kehler played Dennis. Lyle Kessler poured great meaning into this really funny and charming piece.
Up next was another short comedy called “Spit”. This is quite literally what the title presumes it may be about. It is the funny but strange encounter of a man asking a woman to spit om him. He begs her to spit on him as if he were proposing to her rather than the absurd task of being spit on. Their encounter leads to friendship and their weird encounter is a must watch for allk ages. Max Hunter and Christina Toth were together again with the same satisfying results.
Redemption was next. A one-person showing played by Jack Kehler. This one was the most unusual of them all. This act was the journey of a young man who believes he hears the voice of Jesus asking him for help. He is Jewish. Jesus was calling out to him to take “him” (the statue of Jesus at the Catholic church) down. He decides to take Jesus down and flee. What happens afterwards is hysterical and a must watch!
Finally, “Temptation” … funny, even though it covered sexual assault, pedophilia, mental illness and more not-funny subject matter. It concerns a suicidal patient who claims Dr. Standard has had sex with her for 7 years. From the age of 13 or 12, to the age of 20, But is this true?
These comedy-sketches are slices of life’s tribulations. Hunter and Toth consistently turned in great showings with Margaret Ladd and Tony Drazan rounding out the cast of the final installment.
Simply, this is a brilliant series of short plays that need a full run and many nights of appreciative audiences.