Sometimes, usually when I least expect it, I come across a work that goes well beyond what I imagined a play could be.
Occasionally and always magically, a play becomes much more than a collection of words spoken by an assembly of people. It becomes transformative, poetry, and it profoundly and sneakily changes the way you see even the simplest of situations. It makes an impact.
“Where The Numbers End” is one such precious gem.
Set in Hell’s Kitchen over one Saturday night, three cousins, Louise, Caroline and Margaret, attempt to celebrate Margaret’s birthday in a local bar - each in their own entirely unique way. Louise, played by the outrageously brilliant Elizabeth Regen, seems to be the eldest if not the wisest, trying to control their evening and failing. Caroline, played by the shocking and superb Alexandra Vino, is the wild one, picking up a guy at the bar and taking him in the back. Then there is Margaret, played by Sofia Vassilieva, the innocent, who blithely maintains her sweetness as she spirals into a gentle madness. Her cousins are unable to look away.
Sofia Vassilieva, Matty Daniell - Photos James Sprague
During the evening some lost loves of theirs wander in and out of the play, some in the flesh, some in memory and some in imagination. All are important and pivotal in their lives, but giving us inconclusive glimpses into their hearts, which is so brilliant and so true.
This is a story about staying put and staying together, no matter what. Each of these girls has lost their mothers, and after these losses they moved in together, in the same building where they had all grown up, holding on to each other as they hold on to their grief. There is no mention of fathers, and frankly, they would only muddy these beautiful and sweetly twisted waters.
These women are real. They are broken and hurt and more than a little lost, but they are shiningly real. The heartache is compelling but not saccharin. The connection between them painful and necessary but not unreasonable and unexplained. I have best friends that, no matter, what would have been there to pick me up off the sidewalk, listen to my broken-hearted idiocy and help me survive when no one else could. This play is about that. That bond we create and hold on to for dear life and that in turn holds on to us.
Eddie Goines - Photos James Sprague
These vibrant, hilarious and fiercely intelligent women are all of us and their determination to be exactly who they are with absolutely no apologies is glorious and totally unadulterated by convention or shame.
The play takes place entirely in the bar, and yet somehow, by the power of these performances, we could be in a hundred different places. Their action and their story isn’t determined by where they are, which I suppose is somewhat the point. They choose to stay in the same place they have always been, in Hell’s Kitchen where the street numbers end and do so with a fury. Does fear keep them there? Regret? Ghosts? Ultimately I don’t really think that their ‘why’ is any of our business. These three fascinating, loving and unrelentingly present women don’t care whether or not we ‘get’ them. They are too busy being, living and taking each and every obstacle they encounter and turning it into a triumph of furious love.
This play is definitively triumphant.
Amanda Moresco’s witty and brightly intelligent characters weave their magic on us, beckoning us into their lives and keeping us breathless with their honesty, their open hearts, and their brilliant stories shaping them and reshaping them right in front of us.
There are a few smaller roles in the play, all brilliantly portrayed, not small then… but smaller. Clearly, the men in the cousins' lives play a part but are overshadowed by the women’s relationship to each other…as well they should be I think. The echoes of their mothers are all about them, and it is this that I relate to the most. Even the opening of the play is an echo, followed by Margaret and Louise speaking to us in a rhythmic and poetic introduction to their lives setting the tone and expanding our expectations.
Amanda Moresco has quite the brilliant background. Learning her craft from Paul Haggis and Todd Field, as well as her father Bobby Moresco who co-wrote “Crash” and also produces this wonderful play.
Elizabeth Regen, Alexandra Vino, Sofia Vassilieva - Photos James Sprague
As a screenwriter, Amanda has had multiple feature films produced and has also written and produced numerous plays. Most recently she directed the Los Angeles production of William Hoffman's "Cal in Camo," which went on to a critically acclaimed run at The Rattlestick Theatre in NYC.
I cannot urge you enough to see this play. I am a huge lover of theatre and see and review a lot of interesting, engaging and inventive plays. But “Where The Numbers End: A Hell's Kitchen Love Tragedy” is just spectacular. I held my breath through most of it and at the end left smiling and beguiled and haven’t stopped thinking about it since. It’s really that good.
“Where The Numbers End: A Hell's Kitchen Love Tragedy”
The Whitefire Theatre.
13500 Venture Blvd.
Sherman Oaks, 91423
March 18 - June 10, Saturdays 8 pm
Written and Directed by Amanda Moresco
Elizabeth Regen (Louise)
Lynn Sherr (Aisleen)
Sofia Vassilieva (Margaret)
Alexandra Vino (Caroline)
Matty Daniell (Samuel)
Eddie Goines (John)
Zachary Mooren (Guy)
Bobby Moresco, Jessica Moresco, Bobby Moresco, P.R. Pual, Joy Rosenbaum and Bryan Rasmussen.