When Steven Tanenbaum's Mono began an open run on Sept. 14, 2000, at the Off-Off-Broadway, Lower East Side theatre, Surf Reality, the playwright and theatre didn't realize just how open the run was going to be. In the below-14th-Street theatre world of store fronts and second floor spaces, where 16 performances is considers a long run, Mono is an unprecedented hit for tiny, scrappy Surf Reality. The show has played every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night for a year and a half. On Feb. 15, the show will reach performance number 222.
The cast still features two original members: Yafit Hallely and Tricia McAlpin. Completing the ensemble are Brett Christensen, Kena Cuesta, Yasu Ikeda, Lawrence Jansen, David Mitchell, Myrav Osofsky, Tara Pesce, Inbal Samuel, Adi Terer, and Kerri Tucker.
The title has several meanings. Most significantly, Mono is a play in which the 13 characters, all barflies, don't believe in dialogue. Hence, there are a lot of monologues and one-sided discussions. This state of affairs should prove interesting, text-wise, since among the solipsists at this tavern are a mute and a sock puppet.
The roles are filled by actors of varying ethnic background, including Japanese, Israeli and Indian performers. Each will get a chance to play several different parts, as the performers rotate assignments every week.
Audience members double as bar patrons and eavesdroppers and must keep on their toes to track the overlapping theatrical arias and storylines.
Tanenbaum, who also directs, is the author of such works as Q101 and Blink.
Tickets ar $12. Surf Reality is located at 172 Allen Street on the second floor. For more information, call (212) 358-3447.
—By Robert Simonson