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“Straights” Talk from Robert Viagas

The Straights by T. Adamson

Reviewed by Robert Viagas

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Two women launch an epic cross-country road trip full of madness, drugs, self-discovery, and a torrent of talk in T. Adamson’s frenzied new Off-Off-Broadway play, The Straights.

Tall, redheaded Mary Glen Fredrick dominates the action as Nina, a pure force of nature who machine-guns invective at her traveling companion/would-be lover Phoebe (Jennifer Paredes) in between virtual arias of p.c. vituperation and wheedling barked into her cell phone’s voice recognition software, complete with spoken punctuation.

In fact, he play consists of mainly of similar audition-worthy character speeches, though several would benefit from trimming, especially a rambling story purporting to be drawn from Inuit folklore. Nevertheless, The Straights revels in the pure joy of writing and speaking, created by a powerful and virtuosic voice in the American theatre. The show’s 11 o’clock speech is delivered with mounting power by Paredes, describing her desperate loves and unquenchable hates, presented as a mounting series of “Ifs,” building to a breathless climax, as the travelers complete their journey across what the play repeatedly calls “the long earth.”

But as for pure star power, it’s Fredrick as she rails at her friends, howls at fate, and even as she dashes across the stage joyfully in her birthday suit. The play contains one deathless line. Explaining why she won’t give a sample of her shampoo to her on-the-outs traveling companion, Nina snaps, “Shampoo for my real friends, real poo for my sham friends.”

The production featuring Neo Cihi, William Thomas Hodgson, Emily Shain, Lisa Ramirez, Tony Castellanos, Cat Crowley and Boscoe Barles.

Directed by Will Detlefsen The Straights is playing a limited run through Dec. 21 at JACK arts center in the Clinton Hill section of Brooklyn.


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