While Off-Broadway's Primary Stages braces for a brooding, obsessive theatre critic portrayed in St. Nicholas, Off-Off-Broadway's Theatre for the New City has something even scarier: a playwright faking his way through a deadline. The latter show is Upstate, a farcical piece by New City's founding artistic director, Crystal Field. The show begins previews Mar. 19 for a Mar. 21 opening and a run through Apr. 12.
In Upstate, an outspoken, respected but impetuous dramatist gets a commission which he quickly spends. The problem? The commission is for a children's play, which he's not equipped to write. Nonetheless, the playwright heads to his uncle's retreat, where he can stay on one condition: he must look after his goofy college-age cousin. As in Charles Ludlam's How To Write A Play, the comedy builds from all the interruptions keeping the dramatist from writing a play.
Starring in the show is Jonathan Slaff, best known as an Off-Off Broadway press agent (La MaMa, New City). This is his sixth acting appearance in a TNC play.
Co-starring are Alexander Bartenieff, Susan Brennan, Donald Arrington, Ruby Lynn Rainer, Standing Bear [sic], Primy Rivera, Inez Guzman, Joey Llanes, Felicia Griffith, Kevin Martin, Bart Shattuck and Steven Pearl. Designing the show are Donald L. Brooks (set), Jon D. Andreadakis (lighting), Carol Tauser (costumes) and Paul Rice (puppets). David Tice contributes original songs to the mix.
Upstate was first begin by author Field as part of a 1992 playwriting workshop under the guidance of Maria Irene Fornes. Best known as a director, Field also penned the 1987 musical, One Director Against His Cast. For tickets ($10) and information on Upstate at Theatre for the New City, 155 First Ave., call (212) 254-1109.
-- By David Lefkowitz