Review: “Ski End”, a ramp into open space
- Associate New York Critic
Prepare to get suspended in a null-gravity state for an hour and a half. Ski End, produced by Piehole and directed by Tara Ahmadinejad, starts as a slow, meditative emersion into the collective fantasy of what it is to run a ski shop in a small town in Vermont, played out by five 30-something city kids. As they find themselves trapped in the actual abandoned ski store, they start exploring the narration possibilities, building up the play inside the play, and using the equipment that survived the flood.
The puddle in the middle becomes a lake, a clothing rack becomes a bus stop, and a model of the ski ramp becomes a mountain. The space, however seems to be just a part of the chamber of rooms, going “way-way back”. The set, designed by Alexandra Panzer, has a back wall, which doesn’t reach the floor so whoever appears from behind it, is first introduced by their legs. This is in fact how we meet the five visitors, just looking at their legs walking “on the other side” and listening to their recorded voices.
It is just to say that we meet the room first, which seems to have a mind of it’s own. As the city kids, still standing behind the wall, fiddle with the switches and buttons, the lights go on and off, objects move and clouds of smoke appear visible to just us, the audience. The room even has it’s “servant”, a real estate agent (Alexandra Panzer) dressed in 80s attire by Olivia Gibian. She could be easily mistaken for a ghost, or may be she is one?
Everything seems ephemeral in the Ski End. The narration slips away the moment you think you figured out what’s going on and the space appears to have no defined borders. The Projection by Matt Romein kicks in at some pint, expanding the space to some king of digital “mirror-world” to which our characters escape for a minute from time to time. Occasionally the cast bursts into a beautiful a cappella chant or starts a ballet on skies.
The actors move and talk just a little bit slower than one would in real life, which is much slower than it’s normally seen in the theatre. The shifting of roles and improvisational turns is rather fast. It seems to be using the principal of free association, revolving around skiing, running a small business in the age of online stores, climate change and other topics. Even when the other inhabitants of the ski store break in from the outside world, the play only gets “realistic” for a brief moment. The final spiral of Ski End shoots you right into space, where you float in the dark above the 17-year-olds’ fears and hopes.
Ski End plays at New Ohio Theatre, located at 154 Christopher Street, through May 19th. Running time is 95 minutes, no intermission. Performances are Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30pm with an added show on Wednesday, 5/17 at 7:30pm. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased at NewOhioTheatre.org or by calling 212-352- 3101. $20 student tickets are available. For info visit NewOhioTheatre.org.
Ski End is written by Piehole and directed by Tara Ahmadinejad. The production team includes Alexandra Panzer (Scenic Design), Oona Curley (Lighting Design), Joey Wolfslau (Sound Design), Olivia Gibian (Costume Design), Matt Romein (Projection Design), Deepali Gupta (Songwriter), Ann Barkin (Production Stage Manager), Skylar Fox (Technical Director/Production Manager), Elliot B. Quick (Producer/Dramaturg), Bailey Williams (Producer) and Lauren Whitehead (Dramaturg)
The cast is Toni Ann DeNoble, Allison LaPlatney, Alexandra Panzer, Emilie Soffe, Ben Vigus, Jeff Wood, Kijani-Ali Gaulman, Maite Martin and Nicole Suazo.
Asya Danilova is the Associate New York Theatre Critic for OnStage, a New York based photographer and behind-the-scenes videographer for film and theater. She started a theater review blog, New Show New York, because of her passion for theater and background in art and film criticism. What began as a hobby quickly became an important means of expression. Her goal as a writer is to bring more young audiences to the theater. asyadanilova.com