How to Get into Buildings

Trish Harnetiaux’ play How to Get into Buildings jumps around in time – backward and forward (of course). New Georges produced it recently at The Brick in Brooklyn.
The main story – it’s not a plot, really – concerns a motivational speaker, Roger, who meets a woman, Lucy, at a convention center where he’s speaking. Her distinguishing characteristic is that she gets call-back phone calls from a new age psychic. The second story is even more insubstantial, merely a portrait of a couple who end up, for some reason, in a duel with each other, pistols in hand.
The play is set in several locations – a roadside where there’s a car accident, a conference center where Roger meets Lucy, a restaurant where the partnered couple exchange resentful banter. There are a few other places, ill-defined, and the final duel seems to take place nowhere in particular. The set consists of red curtains and some folding chairs leaning against the wall.
The script is enormously creative. In this kaleidoscope of time and space, all reality happens at once, in a sort of mythical moment. But Ms. Harnetiaux losses control when the characters begin to get intertwined, the settings begin to get blurry and the story gets silly. Time-travel like this is such a liberty that the playwright’s other choices need to be conventional to keep the play grounded.
Katherine Brook has directed her actors at a steady pace and with humor. But she’s chosen to give one of her actors three roles. Moving around in time as we are, and faced with the same actor across scenes, we’re not sure what character we’re watching.
The acting is clear and well-defined, if not emotionally strong. As Roger, Jacob A. Ware gives a first-rate performance. When we first meet him he’s an awkward dork coming on to Lucy. Later we see him, his hair slicked back now, delivering his motivational seminar about how to get into buildings (pretend you’re delivering a pizza, for example). This speaker has a powerful focus. Hyper-active, intense and controlled, he’s the picture of the slick presenter. Mr. Ware has a strong physical life and an insightful analysis
How to get into Buildings ultimately fails. But the script is bold and inventive, and for that we appreciate New Georges’ show.
December 2015

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