Review: “The Floor is Lava” at LaMama Experimental Theatre Club

Photo by Carlos Cardona

Photo by Carlos Cardona

  • Anthony J. Piccione, New York Critic

As we get closer to the point where Millennials and Generation Z makes up a solid majority of the voting age population, there has been an increased desire not just for younger people to see perspectives like their own represented in the world of theatre and film, but also for content that helps Baby Boomers and Generation X better understand the unique struggles that today’s young adults – born in the 1980s and 1990s – continue to face in life. Judging by the way it’s been advertised, it’s clear that the main goal of The Floor is Lava is to become the latest creative effort to try and fill that role

Indeed, the play offers a good amount of insight into being a young 20 or 30 something year old struggling in life and feeling left behind in the capitalist economy, specifically in the context of Silicon Valley innovation and the social media-driven world that we live in. Unfortunately, it takes at least a third of the way into the play (it had already felt like half) before it moves on from banal conversation amongst the main characters to making good points about said topic or even focusing on the play’s core plot-point, by which point, the play had already become much less enjoyable. Furthermore, as the intensity continued, there were multiple false alarms, in terms of when the play would finally reach its conclusion.

None of that is to say that it’s a bad play, necessarily. It’s a worthy idea, and the subject matter is very timely. However, I was left with the impression that it could have been better. After making some cuts toward the beginning of the play, and a few dialogue trims toward the end, I could have easily seen this as a solid one-act that would have left the core story no less potent or relatable. As far as I’m concerned, there’s no reason a play like this – which takes place in the same setting all throughout without intermission – should have lasted for nearly two hours.

It terms of the production, the play is artfully staged by Glory Kadigan, down to nearly every detail. A notable highlight is the spectacular scenic design of Izzy Fields, depicting the basement of any young professional’s dream Bachelor pad, complete with iconic video games and an enviable liquor collection. Less impressive, however, was the acting, which gradually became more emotional and believable toward the end, but overall felt underwhelming. While this play was not without its flaws, it was still a good piece that deserved a better cast.

At times, I’ve often thought to myself that there is a such thing as “overdeveloping” your play, in terms of playwrights going through the modern “new play development” process and making too many unnecessary changes. I can only speculate, given that I was not there to review this play’s first incarnation, but based on this play’s history, as well as the fact that it’s a decent concept for a play that went way too long, I have to assume that this is a perfect example of such a play that perhaps could have benefited from a few changes in the opposite direction, if any changes at all.

 

THE FLOOR IS LAVA

“The Floor is Lava” stars John DiMino, Kailah S. King, John Gutierrez, and Andrew Goebel.

“The Floor is Lava” is written by Alex Riad and directed by Glory Kadigan, featuring scenic and costume designer Izzy Fields, lighting designer Kryssy Wright, sound designer Jacob Subotnick, props designer Lytza R. Colon, assistant director Lucia Bellini, stage manager Richard Sommerfield & press representative Jay Michaels.

“The Floor is Lava” – presented by Planet Connections Theatre Festivity – ended its run at LaMama Experimental Theatre Club on May 19th.