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Theatre & Broadyway Show Review: Show Business Weekly: The Eaten Heart

THEATER • August: Osage County • Edward II • Beckett Shorts FILM •CHUCK CLOSE: An Elegant Portrait of the Art World's Leadnig Portraitist Q&A • Growing up Munster

1/12/08 6:41 PM

The Eaten Heart Written by Hannah Bos & Paul Thureen Directed by Oliver Butler The Ontological Hysteric Theater 131 East 10th Street 212-352-3101 Review by Sean Michael O’Donnell

• Casting: Crazy for You • Open Auditions: Little Tales: Ireland • A Fair in Spring • My Umbrella, SVA Short

The Debate Society has carved out a respectable niche for itself in the very crowded world of off-off-Broadway, earning much-deserved critical acclaim along the way. Its latest offering, The Eaten Heart, is the second in a proposed trilogy of new plays based on stories originating from the Black Plague. Heart

DIRECTING THEATER From Black Boxes to B'way: NYC stage directors reveal what they look for in actors and everything else!

modernizes Giovanni Boccaccio’s 14th century opus “The Decameron,” setting

• August: Osage County • Edward II (pictured) • Beckett Shorts

the anthology in the anonymous refuge of a roadside motel. Written by the multi-talented Hannah Bos and Paul Thureen, and flawlessly directed by Oliver Butler, the play is a well-crafted theatrical experiment — awesome in scope and bold in execution.

• Off- off- Broadway

The story weaves together the lives of multiple characters: A preacher’s wife contemplates an extramarital affair. A husband plots revenge against his cheating wife and best friend. A doomed magician unknowingly masters his craft. A mysterious woman carries on an unhealthy relationship with a potted plant. A pot-smoking drifter crosses paths with an invisible man. Ultimately, the numerous plots collide in what is a very dark comedy populated by sadness and quiet desperation.

• The New Shanghai Circus (pictured) • Man is Man • The Farnsworth Invention

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Theatre & Broadyway Show Review: Show Business Weekly: The Eaten Heart

1/12/08 6:41 PM

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• Christmas Carol • The Devil's Disciple • Flakes • The Puppetmaster of Lodz • Yellow Face (pictured) • Queens Boulevard (the musical)

Hungry? Hannah Bos and Paul Thureen play over a dozen characters between them in The Eaten Heart, inspired by Giovanni Boccaccio’s 14 century opus, “The Decameron.” A play of such complexity would defeat a lesser director, but Oliver Butler thrives under the weight of the story’s many demands. Piece by piece, he crafts an extraordinary theatrical experience, creatively staging each moment to produce a living and constantly changing triptych. Butler’s innovative direction is further enhanced by an outstanding design team, most notably set designer Amanda Rehbein and lighting designer Mike Riggs. Rehbein perfectly captures the anonymity and interchangeability of a cheap motel room while Riggs uses minimal light to maximum effect to compliment the play’s odd dimensions and mysterious tone.

• Maudie & Jane • New Amsterdames • The Seafarer (pictured)

Bos and Thureen’s dialogue crackles with clever witticisms and startling honesty. They unearth the true dark side of humanity, subtly revealing the unspoken despair of everyday life by exposing its innate humor. Yet as good as their writing is, Bos and Thureen prove themselves even more accomplished as actors. Portraying over a dozen characters between them, the talented duo delivers one great performance after another as they effortlessly capture the pathos and complexity of human nature. Bos, Thureen and Butler (the theatrical triumvirate that is The Debate Society) don’t merely put on a play, they create an experience. The result is, quite simply, great theater. • The Joy Luck Club (pictured) • Bad Jazz • Secret Order

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Gothamist: Opinionist: The Eaten Heart

1/12/08 3:05 AM

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JUNE 3, 2007

Opinionist: The Eaten Heart The Debate Society is a taut little theater triad comprised of director Oliver Butler and wizardly actors Paul Thureen and Hannah Bos. Their 2006 production, The Snow Hen, took a Norwegian folk tale about an abandoned girl and wove it into a charmingly dark tapestry of melancholy and mystique. Now they’re back at the Ontological Theater (Richard Foreman’s regular digs) with The Eaten Heart, an enchanting mood-play very loosely inspired by Giovanni Boccaccio’s 14th Century tome The Decameron, which packs in 100 stories told over the course of ten days by ten people killing time during the Black Plague. No familiarity with The Decameron required; The Debate Society employs Boccaccio’s picaresque as a springboard into their own portraits of contemporary isolation. In this mesmerizing two-hander – that might also be dubbed The Secret Lives of Seedy Hotel Rooms – Thureen and Bos slip seamlessly in and out of multiple characters at a roadside hotel. There’s the Renaissance Fair worker whose TV mysteriously plays without her bidding, the third rate magician fruitlessly practicing his “turn the TV on” trick in the adjacent room, the neglected wife of a radio evangelist and her coveted pizza delivery boy, the salesman who’s convinced the “voodoo” bikini briefs he picked up in New Orleans afford him invisibility. (Hysterical hijinks ensue.) It may start out a little slow (depending on your state of mind), but the company soon envelops the room in their meticulously evocative spell. The sound design (Nathan Leigh) is marvelous and scenic designer Amanda Rehbein works wonders by somehow materializing three hotel rooms, a swimming pool, a cheesy cabaret, a kitchen and dining room in The Ontological’s cozy space. If all involved are at times a little too enamored with their own atmospherics, it’s hard to blame them; it’s boldly imaginative and spellbinding stuff, thanks in no small part to Bos and Thureen’s nuanced performances. As they race through their finely-drawn menagerie of characters, the duo multiplies into countless distinct incarnations of modern longing. At turns hilariously endearing and hauntingly sinister, their inspired mix of ingredients makes for a four star feast. The Eaten Heart continues through June 9th at The Ontological-Hysteric Theater. Tickets cost $17.

By John Del Signore in Opinions , Theater | Link | Comments (0) | Recommend this! (7) | [+] Tags: design, dining, Opinions, people, race, radio, snow, Theater, theater


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New Theater Corps: The Eaten Heart

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THEATER TALK has enlisted a group of up-and-coming, young theater professionals to see and review some of the latest stage productions in the NY Tri-State area. We hope the comments they post on this blog will be useful.

SUNDAY, MAY 27, 2007


The Eaten Heart

Susan Haskins Producer

Flawless. No, really. Go see this show.

Aaron Riccio Editor Cindy Pierre Senior Staff Writer Ellen Wernecke Staff Writer Ilena George Staff Writer Patrick Lee Contributing Writer Elizabeth Devlin Contributing Writer Cameron Kelsall Contributing Writer

Reviewed by Aaron Riccio The Eaten Heart, a flawless work of theater performed by The

Amanda Cooper Contributing Writer Hannah Snyder-Beck Correspondent

Debate Society, takes place in the Motel "Decameron," a modern version of Boccaccio's epic collection of bawdy allegory. Here, the action takes place in a series of three parallel motel rooms (only the

Eric Miles Glover Correspondent Page 1 of 3

New Theater Corps: The Eaten Heart

action takes place in a series of three parallel motel rooms (only the

1/12/08 3:06 AM


central one is fully exposed), and presents only glimpses of a wide range of characters. But those glimpses, handled by Hannah Bos and Paul Thureen, are so nuanced (and yet so subtle) that the entire evening is rich with the effect of many lives fully lived. Bos can go

Made possible in part by The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

from being a raging temptress to a coy loner or a panic-struck singer, often in the same breath. Thureen, a perfect match, turns awkward into quietly sadistic and feeble into gleefully daft, as much satyr as saturnine. The show only runs an hour, but that time gives us everything from a magician's panic-stricken collapse to a married woman's brief and childlike encounter with the pizza-delivery guy. The absurd is refined by the unsettling jocularity of a man who thinks the voodoo underwear he's wearing makes him invisible; the grotesque is present in a potted plant with some very special soil; the humanity in the


brief connection between a pot-smoking sexpot and a mute

▼ 2008 (3)

repairman. Impressive as these lives in miniature are, the technical precision of this show is what sets it apart. Director Oliver Butler's inventive ability prevails across the entire show, along with that of Amanda Rehbein's conjoined motel rooms, Mike Riggs' thunderstorm-creating

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lighting design, Sydney Maresca's thousand-and-one costumes, and

► 2007 (290)

Nathan Leigh's illusion-creating ("slight-of-ear") sound effects. Along

► 2006 (178)

with the outstanding cast, the show continually defies our

► 2005 (72)

expectations of the space, and is then able to suckerpunch us by defying our expectations of the characters. ARTS BLOGGERS

By the time the show ended, I had by no means had my fill of The

Broadway & Me

Eaten Heart: every segment was fresh and filled with theatrical

About Last Night

magic. From the expert use of silence to the genius of overlapping two disparate strangers from different times in the same room at the same time, Butler has already found the way to transmute the mundane into the seductive. Such theatrical alchemy has turned The Eaten Heart to gold; indulge it now while you still can.

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The Ontological Theater at St. Mark's Church (131 East 10th

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Tickets (212-352-3101): [Student] $12.00 | [Adult] $17.00

Broadway & Me

Performances (Through 6/9): Tues., Thurs., Fri., Sat., Sun @ 8

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The Eaten Heart - theater tour info package  

The tour details of The Eaten Heart, a new play created by The Debate Society. Premiered in New York in 2007, currently booking the US tour...