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The Comedian’s Tragedy

Robert Massimi. 

 The really great thing about off of Broadway is that you never know when you will come across what I call a hidden gem. In a well directed play that takes place in ancient Greece, we are given a story about a boy who lost himself for a period of time and then finds his dream. 

 In what was unorthodox and yet brilliant, we see the actors warming up before the show in a see through curtain. The Audience gets the feeling (at least I did), that the director has brought us back in time in Ancient Greece,  when theater ingratiated the audience. 

 The theater, a black box, with a curtain that is in tatters, the Chinese artwork on the walls, we feel the effects of a Bohemian genre. It seems that writer Matthew Amendt wanted to give us a classic play with a modern twist. Well maybe not modern by today’s standards,  more like the Gertrude Stein; Pablo Picasso era. 

 We first meet the Chorus Leader, (Ron Menzel), who is excellent in his role ( as he was in Parisian Woman). Menzel immediately brought a professionalism to the evening’s performance. Reminiscent of Edgar Allen Poe,  Menzel commanded the stage throughout the show. His wit and charm were carried out with grace and style.

  The entire show is based on Aris, who has turned his back on writing.  His life seems as if it is spiraling out of control. Motivated to write, he is at the Crossroads and doubts himself. He has many friends in his life but his inspiration comes from someone he leasts expects to carry him forth.

 Under some nifty lighting by Leslie D. Smith, the play moves along at a good pace. Add some comedy too this play and it becomes an intriguing story.  Smith deftly mixes romantic and glam lighting for a wonderful change of pace, and as such, gives this play a very gothic feel.

  In a very tight direction, Bill Mc Callum is able to let a very talented group of actors portray what are very difficult roles in that they need to keep the audience engaged in what is a very intensive play. Mc Callum did a superb job with this show. “The Comedian’s Tragedy ” is not a play for everybody,  Mc Callum use of body language amongst these actors was snazzy. 

 The only thing that was missing in this play was the costumes. Some of the costuming was interesting (Gary Lowery’s and Ron Menzel’s)., however, the cargo pants and the 60,’s hippy look just didn’t blend in well to the performance.  Other costumes that looked more like punk rock outfits also were counter productive as to the plays genre. The costumes at times took away from what the play was about and did not add any quality to the show.

 Some of the other noteworthy actors were :Gary Lowery as Socrates, Asma Thabet as Nicias and Derek Smith as Alcibiades.  All three were radiant in their performances.  Lowery in particular had great command in his role. Comfortable and charismatic, Lowery was nothing short of exceptional. 

 “The Comedian’s Tragedy “, at the Access Theater was well done and very professional.  It’s cast has many seasoned actors who under great direction put forth a fine production. Set in Ancient Greece with a modern feeling to it, this play has a lot of appeal to it. The good use of words during the two hours fifteen minutes gives it an intriguing allure and should not be missed.

robert massimi
I have been writing on theater since 1982. I currently am Chief Drama Critic for Metropolitan Magazine. I have produced 12 shows on and off Broadway. Former member of board Metropolitan Playhouse.

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