New York City Theater
Kirk Theater, Manhattan
“Nami,” a new offering of a young company (the Partial Comfort Productions), is an extraordinary piece that grabs you by the throat and never lets go. All the elements—plot, dialogue, characterization, performance, direction—come together in a raw, brutal drama. It is only toward the closing, when a character is allowed a long, expository monologue, that the play falters.
Written by Chad Beckim, co-founder and co-artistic director of the company, “Nami” is safe in the hands of director John Gould Rubin, whose production moves ahead with steadily mounting—almost unbearable—tension. The show is also blessed with a superb cast (Quincy Tyler Bernstine, Michael Gladis, Eva Kaminsky, Alfredo Narciso, and Marc Rosenthal) and an infallible design team which brings the gritty milieu to life (Heather Wolensky, set; Jason Jeunnette, lighting; Lex Liang, costumes; and Zach Williamson, sound).
“Nami” is the tale of five losers who interact in a no-win situation. Two married couples live side by side in two ramshackle apartments, overseen by the menacing super Donovan. Harry and Lil act out the roles of caretaker and patient. She has spent time in a mental hospital, a place to which she is likely to return at any moment. Roachie and Keesha share a different dynamic. He is a thoroughly useless druggie, while she, a former prostitute, now supports the couple by working in a fast food outlet. Donovan looms over this latter couple, using Roachie for his own evil purposes. The catalyst which brings all five together is a character we never see—a little Indonesian girl who whimpers in the background. Donovan, who is evil personified, is about to sell this child into sexual slavery, and only the intervention of the two women can save her.
This gifted team provides what one always hopes to find in the off-Broadway world—an unexpected gem.
-- Irene Backalenick
Sept. 15, 2006