We sit in complete darkness, as we hear friends reminiscing about dreams, which for no reason turns into accusations of racism, as if….. but we are in a politically correct day and age where even in our last hours we are accused of what we may or may not have thought.
I am normally a fan of Brandon Jacobs-Jenkins (Gloria, An Octoroon) work, but Everybody, premiering at the Signature Theater, just left me cold. Maybe its because the actors who were chosen to play the leads (a lottery picks the performers) were not that great and hard to hear. This surrealistic approach to theatre based on the medieval morality play Everyman loses something in its adaption. Life, death, salvation, morality and the human condition are things I think about deeply everyday, so this just seemed superficial to me.
Jocelyn Bioh starts off our journey first as an usher and then as God. She is witty, personal and just a little unhinged). Enter Marylouise Burke as death. Just by opening her mouth Ms. Burke has you laughing with her perfect timing. From the audience people are picked to move on. One in particular is picked through a lottery and for my audience we had Louis Cancelmi as Everybody. Mr. Cancelmi though handsome with an impressive resume for TV, just does not have the voice or presence for the stage. David Patrick Kelly as Friendship/ Strength was also hard to understand. Where are the mikes or sound design team (Brandon Wolcott)? There are 120 different casting possibilities so maybe I had an off night, because I found it hard to connect to this piece and wanted to drift off.
Not wanting to face judgment and God alone, Everyman seeks to bring someone along. Death agrees knowing no one will go. Beauty (Brooke Bloom), Kindship/ Mind (Michael Braun) Stuff (Lakisha Michelle May) all agree and then back out. All The Shitty Evil Things (Bloom) and Love (Chris Perfetti) who seeks to humiliate, agrees to follow.
Director Lila Neugebauer does some interesting staging, especially with the dancing skeletons (Laura Jellinek), but for 90 minutes this show drags.
Everybody: Signature Theater, 480 West 42nd St. until March 19.