Off-Broadway Review: 'Inanimate'
- OnStage Associate New York Theatre Critic
A woman passionate for inanimate objects is the subject of this quirky comedy opening the season at Flea’s brand new theater.
Erika La Tour Eiffel married Eiffel Tower in 2007 and became the inspiration for Nick Robideau’s new play, Inanimate. In it, a 30-year-old, also named Erica (Lacy Allen), struggles to maintain the façade of normalcy while having a relationship with various inanimate objects. When a customer at the supermarket sees her shoving a can opener down her pants, a scandal shakes the small Massachusetts town to the core, throwing shade on Trish (Tressa Preston), Erica’s older sister and a local politician. Embarrassed and with no one to talk to, Erica spends her lonely evenings with a boyfriend, Dee. Well, I am not sure if the term “boyfriend” is applicable in the objectum-sexual relationship. Because Dee is a Dairy Queen sign, represented on stage by both a metal pole and a handsome punk, Philip Feldman.
We see a parade of other objects, impersonated by the chorus members: Artem Kreimer, Nancy Tatiana Quintana, Michael Oloyede. Every time Oloyede appears on stage dressed as a BDSM can-opener, the audience can’t help but chuckle. Kreimer is rocking it as a vintage lamp and Quintana is adorable as a stuffed bear. But actors are merely human avatars, put there to make the play accessible to the rest of us, “people-sexuals”. Erica engages in passionate conversations and action with objects in her hands, not the people on stage. As she explains it to the newly acquired confidant, a fellow Dairy Queen employee, Kevin (Maki Borden), “It is not the sex in the way you’d think of sex. It’s more touching, rubbing… That sort of thing”.
The quirky subject matter is handled with brutal honesty and extreme delicacy by both the playwright Robideau and the director Courtney Ulrich. Above all, Inanimate is about compassion and willingness to accept the other as they are. Well written and tastefully directed, the play goes beyond the initial curiosity in the unusual sexual preferences of the heroine. It reminds us how helpful it is to find your own flock, whether it is over Dungeons and Dragons or objectophilia, and how important it is to allow yourself to be who you are.
Lacy Allen is on point as Erica, with her pink ombré hair and hands nervously clutching tight jeans. Kevin, a Dairy Queen manager, portrayed by Maki Borden, makes for a lovable counterpart, stuck between his nerdy hobbies and the pressure of societal expectations. Though they could have been a perfect couple of misfits, they find a better arrangement for their relationship goals.
Inanimate plays at The Flea Theater, 20 Thomas Street, through October 16th. The running time is 1 hour 30 minutes with no intermission. Performances are Thursday through Monday at 7, with Sunday matinees at 3. Tickets are $15 with the lowest priced tickets available on a first-come, first-served basis, and are available by calling 212-352-3101 or at www.theflea.org.
Inanimate is by Nick Robideau. It is directed Courtney Ulrich. Scenic Design is by Yu-Hsuan Chen. Costume Design is by Sarah Lawrence. Lighting Design is by Becky Heisler. Sound Design is by Megan Culley. Gina Solebello is the Production Stage Manager. Photos by Hunter Canning.
The cast is Lacy Allen, Maki Borden, Philip Feldman, Tressa Preston, Artem Kreimer, Nancy Tatiana Quintana, Michael Oloyede.