Reviewed by Robert Viagas
Written, directed, and featuring Joshua Crone
“The past is the hardest substance known to man,” says one of the characters in one of the best lines of Joshua Crone’s drama, Squatters. But the present is much more nebulous, malleable and mysterious in this “Twilight Zone” episode of a two-hander, making its American premiere Off-Off-Broadway.
Set in an empty apartment overlooking the still-smoking ruins of the World Trade Center in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, Squatters tells the story of a woman and a man who pick each other up at a bar and retreat to the empty apartment for a “tryst” next to the grim site. But as it turns out, things are nowhere near as they seem. Maybe these two have met before. In fact, maybe they grew up together. In fact—well, the surprises keep coming and shouldn’t be spoiled, especially the last two that are revealed in the play’s final moments.
Author/ director/leading man Crone plays a stoic and introspective U.S. Marine who may be getting ready to ship out to Afghanistan, or perhaps he has deserted, or perhaps he has another reason for being there entirely. His play seems to be disjointed at first, but as the pieces fall into place you start to see how carefully assembled the story is, and how carefully he disassembles it again for you.
Sexy and vivacious one minute, abruptly pouting and wounded the next, Dori Levitt always keeps the audience slightly off-balance, hinting that perhaps something bigger and stranger is at work here. She commands the stage and is a real find.
Though Squatters is just now making its New York stage premiere, this neat little nesting doll of enigmas has already had a long and varied life, having enjoyed stages success in Germany and London. Now it comes to America for the first time.
Squatters is being presented the NuBox Theatre at 754 Ninth Avenue, Manhattan. Performances continue through September 30.