Theater Ninjas describes itself as “…the Food Truck of Cleveland Theater, who as a nomadic company seeks out new and exciting spaces to perform”. One thing should be added to this description…as with Cleveland Food Trucks, Theater Ninjas tends to serve up surprisingly tasty gourmet treats for their legion of fans. It also takes a bit more effort to locate a Theater Ninjas performance but when done it is usually well worth the effort.
Thus it is with “[sic]”, the new 80 minute production now showing at 78th Street Studios. The title is taken from the Latin term “thus” meaning “as is” meaning these are the friends that I have ended up with thus everything is as it is or should be in spite of the problems associated. The play is written by Melissa James Gibson and wonderfully directed by Pandora Robertson. The “theater” is actually a shared open space of various artist studios that has been converted into a legitimate stage with seating for around 40. The Ninja team has put a lot of effort in constructing the set; it consists of three tiny “apartment spaces” on slanted platforms with chairs, tables, dressers and various props as well as a window in each apartment that figures into the story at various times.
The apartments belong to three people who have been thrown together as friends against the big bad city. Babette (Lee Kolis) is an author in the “obscure genre” currently working on a book about the Guttenberg Bible. She recently slept with Theo (Ryan Lucas), but claims she was drunk at the time. Theo recently lost his wife (she is not dead, just “lost”) and is experiencing writers block while trying to compose a jingle for a roller coaster theme song. Theo has decided to take his friendship with Babette to a much higher level in spite of Babette’s protests. Babette is constantly hitting up Theo for money of which he is a soft touch for. Frank (Gabriel Riazi) recently broke up with Larry (whom we never see) who is friends with Babette and Theo. His dream is to travel to Kansas City to take a course in professional auctioneering. Recently he has been having erotic dreams about Theo. Then there is the mystery couple (Michael Prosen as the Man’s Voice and Courtney Nicole Auman as the Woman’s Voice) who appear as shadows on a white screen behind the set every time someone opens a window to eavesdrop. They are on the verge of separation.
As with all mad-cap comedies, the strength is in the dialog and this is where “[sic]” shines. There is “over-talk” with all three characters speaking different phrases at once, there is “sync-talk” where two characters say the same phrases in unison to a third person and there is Frank rehearsing his auctioneering skills with weird nonsense tongue twisting phrases that he repeats throughout the play.
In short, it is a play about how we do not necessarily “pick” our friends as assemble them from kit form and while not a perfect arrangement, it is good enough to help us survive on a day to day basis.
Prude Alert: There is some language as well as sexual reference. If your desire to be comically entertained is outweighed by your sensitivities, then you may wish to avoid this show.
Shooting From The Lip (My Last Words): Theater Ninjas’ “[sic]” now playing at 78th Street Studios is a collection of comic vignettes put together in a loose story line that is sure to delight everyone. It is sharply written as well as sharply performed by a very able cast. Take the time to seek this one out (clue: go to 78th Street Studios at 1300 78th Street, Cleveland, Ohio and follow the signs to the second floor). You will be richly rewarded for your effort.
The Cast and Crew
Written by Melissa James Gibson, Directed by Pandora Robertson, Starring Courtney Nicole Auman, Rachel Lee Kolis, Ryan Lucas, Michael Prosen and Gabriel Riazi.
Lighting Design by Gregory Falcione, Costume Design by Stephanie Fisher, Set Design by Val Kozlenko, Original Composition by Michael Bratt.
“[sic]” will be performed through March 15, 2014 on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays & Mondays at 8:00 p.m. at 78th Street Studios, 1300 West 78th St., Second Floor, Cleveland, OH 44102
For tickets go to www.squareup.com/market/theater-ninjas
General Admission: $20
Thursdays & Mondays: $10
Under 25/Over 75: $15