The point of this post is not the Kraine Theater, tucked inside a portmanteau building on East 4th Street that also houses a second theater and a bohemian bar. The point is what the New York Neo-Futurists are doing inside, to wit (take a breath for this title): THE COMPLETE & CONDENSED STAGE DIRECTIONS OF EUGENE O’NEILL, VOLUME 1: EARLY PLAYS/LOST PLAYS.
Now stage directions are a subject dear to my heart, an admittedly rarefied interest that I doubled down on when I started to teach the 19th-century theatrical Naturalists, who envied and emulated the novel for its powers of description and its improbable knowledge of the inner lives and motivations of its characters. So this so smart, so scintillating, so deftly hilarious production makes me suitably jealous that I neither thought of it nor carried it off, nor, I would hazard, could have.
Gleaned from O’Neill’s creakiest period as a writer, the directions recited and performed are the perfect specimens for this project of homage and ridicule, so often futile as any sort of viable guidance for the actor (every direction is an Everest to be climbed), yet snappy and rhythmic in orchestrating action and incident (the show is as lively as a French farce). I left having few aspirations for my future theatergoing beyond a hope that the same crew will get around to Volume 2, posthaste.
For more on the New York Neo-Futurists, click here.