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Robert Viagas on the “Floor”

The Floor Is Lava By Alex Riad

Reviewed by Robert Viagas

While the uptown theatres are catering to Millennials still obsessed with proms and high school bullies, LaMaMa ETC’s new drama The Floor Is Lava is examining the way Millennials now in their late 20s are coping with the challenges of early career success—and failure.

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In the children’s game The Floor Is Lava, kids try to cross a room by walking on furniture and anything else that will keep them from physically coming into contact with the floor. No one has to teach kids games like that; each kid seems to invent the same rules by themselves. In Alex Riad’s play of the same title, four former high school buddies find their lives careening off in wildly different directions, which strains their friendship to the breaking point. Matt (John Gutierrez) works in a pizzeria and sells weed. Tom (Andrew Gobel) has become an internet billionaire by inventing a simple but wildly popular app. Kat (Kailah S. King), who helped Tom develop the app, now finds herself his employee, but not his partner. The most disappointed and bitter of all is the little group’s former leader, Sean (John Di Mino), who found his dream job as a marketer to be hollow, and got fired after having a breakdown in front of an important client.

They reunite together in the basement (a set full of witty details from designer Izzy Fields) of Tom’s Silicon Valley mansion at a party to celebrate the success of the app. Set in a world drenched in social media, the four consume vast amounts of alcohol in order to undergo some long-overdue face-to-face truth-telling. What results is an examination of disillusionment and the true meaning of success in a materialistic world—and one of the first true grown-up stage dramas for a generation that is already taking the wheel of our society.

Directed by Glory Kadigan, The Floor Is Lava is playing a limited run through May 19 in the Downstairs Theatre at LaMaMa Experimental Theatre Company, 66 East 4th Street in Manhattan.

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