WTC VIEW at Allens Lane Theater: Rarely Produced, Must Be Seen

by Dominic Santos

I was in seventh grade, sitting in my social studies class when I found out that a plane had hit The World Trade Center. To be honest, I didn’t quite know what The World Trade Center was. To me it was just “another building” in New York City. It’s amazing how a tragedy can educate you and change you at the same time.

Joseph Nevin (Eric) and Patrick Alicarlo (Alex) in a scene from Allens Lane Theater's production of WTC VIEW, running in Philadelphia through March 26.

WTC VIEW at Allens Lane Theater brought me back to that same social studies class, and the same feelings I had then sitting at my desk, occurred at the table where I was sitting watching this play; a play about Eric, a young man living in SoHo, who places an online ad for a roommate in the Village Voice on September 10, 2001. The ad states the apartment has a view of the WTC. On the 12th, he gets five messages. Over the course of the next two weeks, he has trouble finding a new roommate in the aftermath of the terrorists’ attacks on New York, while at the same time, struggling to keep his mental balance. The play focuses on the people that come to view the apartment and their experience of the day that changed the nation.

The production features seven fine actors. Joseph Nevin plays the roommate seeking, emotionally unstable, Eric. His great presence accompanied by fine technique, help him give a stellar performance. I love watching actors that don’t seem like they’re acting. They are just living in each moment and Mr. Nevin was definitely present and relished those moments. Shelli Pentimall Bookler plays Eric’s witty uptown friend, Josie. Josie supplies a lot of the comedy that lightens up the heavy melancholic atmosphere that surrounds the play and the theater for that matter. Ms. Pentimall Bookler did justice to the part. She had excellent comedic timing and and great depth. The chemistry between her and Nevin was the strongest for me and I enjoyed watching their scenes together the most. Patrick Alicarlo plays Alex, a prospective roommate who comes to check out the apartment. Mr. Alicarlo was a delight. His monologue about his experience on the tragic day was a highlight and I admired his delivery.

T. Patrick Ryan does a beautiful job directing this important piece of work. Although I must admit, with a script that is so well written, the show seems to direct itself. (The play was brilliantly written by playwright and screen writer Brian Sloan.) My only problem was I had a difficult time understanding some of the pre-recorded voicemails. I thought it would have been pretty cool if the actors had acted out the voicemails instead but that’s just me being a sidewalk director.

Allens Lane Theater is producing one of the most important plays of the past decade. It’s quite a shame it’s not well known. (The play debuted at the NY Theater Fringe Festival in 2003 and was later made into a small independent film starring Michael Urie in 2005.) This is a play that needs to be seen by everyone and that needs to be produced a lot more often around the country, but for now, we are lucky enough to have it very well produced in our very own community.

by Brian Sloan
Directed by T. Patrick Ryan
March 11-26, 2011
Allens Lane Theater
601 Allens Lane
(Allens Lane and McCallum Street)
Philadelphia, PA 19119

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