Max Berry, Contributing Critic- New York City
In the newest play by Jake Shore, “The Sun Hangs There Between the Buildings and the Trees” tackles ideas of the morality of murder and when it is acceptable to take matters into your own hands. Centering around two college professors who decide to start organizing the murders of rapists and other criminals on their campus in order to save the lives of the other students, “The Sun Hangs There Between the Buildings and the Trees” keeps you on your toes, giving you just enough information to consider the morality of the situation, but not enough to be totally sure what’s going on.
This play is full of secrets between both the characters and each other and the characters and the audience. In a beautiful demonstration of suspense, we are not given all of the answers about what exactly is happening until the plays abrupt conclusion, and even then, I found myself unsure. This was quite enjoyable and it was in these moments where I was on the edge of my seat and hanging on every word. I love that the play gave me, as an audience member just enough information, but not all of it. The play’s successful moments could be summed up in the tone of the first scene, beginning as a casual lunch between colleagues and eventually becoming a meeting much more sinister and compelling. You know something is off from the first line, despite its casualness, and throughout the scene you are anxiously waiting the sinister reveal. It was these moments (Often between Isaac J. Conner’s Barry and Andrea Peterson’s Nora) that I enjoyed the most. These moments were filed to the brim with high tension and an urgency and I was always eager to find out more whenever these two spoke.
On the flip side of this, however, the scenes with Ken (Maurice McPherson), I was less interested in. They seemed to slow down the play and I found myself longing to return to another anxious lunch conversation with Barry and Nora. His journey of figuring out the truth of what is wife was doing didn’t grab me. I would much rather have watched the same truths be revealed simply through Barry and Nora. With the exception of one great scene between Ken and Barry (of which held a moment of silence that was one of the most compelling in the play), something about his character seemed to slow the play down for me. Though, I did enjoy the performance by Maurice McPherson, who had many great serious as well as humorous moments.
The ending also felt like it could have benefited from one more scene. It stopped rather abruptly, and while I’m sure this was a very deliberate choice, I found myself not fully satisfied. Perhaps this is exactly what Shore intended, but I still couldn’t help but feel slightly let down after the final confrontation.
Overall, this was a very enjoyable play with some suspenseful moments and really interesting questions it’s asking. I just would have liked to have seen a little more of Nora and Barry and a little less of Ken, as well as possibly a more satisfying conclusion. Despite those two points, however, I found myself thinking more deeply about the morality of murder as I walked out of the theater, with a sort of puzzled smile on my face.
“The Sun Hangs There Between The Buildings and the Trees” was written and directed by Jake Shore.
It features: Isaac J. Conner, Andrea Peterson, and Maurice McPherson.
It runs at UNDER St. Marks Theater(4 St Marks Pl, New York, NY 10009) July 13-August 10, every Saturday at 2PM