"Handball" is a wonderful paeon to the Bronx, NYC, and the street life that flows within, amidst constant gentrification and urban renewal. Written by the extremely talented Seth Zvi Rosenfeld and directed by Brenda Banda, the play is about a neighborhood in turmoil, where the handball court is actually a "rest in peace" graffiti covered wall, ruled over by Javier (Mattias Ponce). Replete with 'rest in peace' tributes, the powers that be wish to change the neighborhood, led by a committee run by Christopher (Spencer Weitzel) & Laurie (Isabel Davila), a mixed-marriage couple, she being Hispanic, and he Jewish. The neighborhood council's primary goal is taking care of a garden, dutifully built up and nurtured. Also, at one poignant point in the performance, we are introduced to little Lucy, played by Daniela De La Fe, a 'child of the streets,' who is loved and cared for by Ra-Ra (Dyaine Pascall). Ra Ra is a friend of Christopher's and the various medley of characters fall into place and enmesh in each others' lives, such as Orlando (David Santana), who we discover has a long history with Christopher, as they travel the woody terrain in Central America.
The play is a discussion about a tough neighborhood in a blighted area. At a most opportune and climactic moment, Orlando kisses Christopher on the lips, revealing his sexuality. He is the main financier behind the couple's organization to save the neighborhood, which struggles to survive the exigencies of life. Panama ( Jeff De Serrano) is the capo. ironically from Cleveland, yet playing a New Yorker so well; truly he is the standout amongst the cast.
It's a mix between Westside Story and Rent, with an original plot and empowering dialogue. The entire ensemble are members of the Urban Theatre Movement, a multicultural collective of artists dedicated to producing original, published and classical works.
Through December 15th
Thursdays thru Saturdays 8PM Sundays 7PM
Studio/Stage 520 N Western Ave