Anthony J. Piccione
New York Critic
Whether you’re a writer, an actor, or a director, timed challenges in theatre can often be wildly crazy and highly energizing for all of the artists involved. For the audience members who are lucky enough to be around for the final result, it often leads to some of the most strangely entertaining nights of live theatre that you’re bound to enjoy. If there’s ever been such an excellent example I’ve seen recently of that, it’s the recent “All-Stars” round of the Rule of 7x7 series that runs throughout the year at The Tank.
The idea behind the series is that, for each round, seven playwrights are each given seven rules – often ones which are incredibly bonkers, such as a specific random line that needs to be part of the dialogue, or a reference to a certain song of other element of pop culture – to follow as they write a short play to be fully staged by actors and directors at the end of a relatively short process…all while the audience kicks back and enjoys a free beer while watching these works come to life.
Timed writing challenges often lead to mixed results and not necessarily the most polished of works, and this show seems to prove that. However, that’s clearly not the point of the series. Rather, it’s to experiment with what comedic material the writers can come up with when given some ridiculous constraints to work strictly within, and it pays off in the form of some hysterical material, which – judging by the audience reaction – was very well-received.
The humor in some of the plays falls-flat, namely the two dull and unimaginative scripts Tradition! Tradition! by Lilli Stein or Truth or Dare by Amanda Keating. Meanwhile, plays such as Will Arbery’s The Alignment System and Cary Gitter’s Talk Dirty to Me are filled with just enough raunchy and over-the-top humor to keep audience members laughing out loud from beginning to end. The strongest piece, by far, was Sean Murphy’s solo-show, In and Out of Itself, which required audience participation after selecting cards at the beginning of the show, and left this particular audience member nearly kicking in his chair.
All of these plays, however, left me happy that I had the chance to see this event. I can only imagine how much fun it must have been for the artists who were involved. I know from my perspective, it was definitely a fun night to watch from an outsider’s perspective. Lucky for our readers, it seems that this series isn’t going anywhere any time soon, so be sure to consider checking out a future “7x7” event at The Tank, when 2019 comes along.
RULE OF 7X7: ALL-STARS
For more information on future Rule of 7x7 events, please visit www.thetanknyc.org.