Playful Substance Theater Company-Pithy Party: Heart-Shaped Box

Playful Substance Theater Company-Pithy Party

Playful Substance, one of NY’s premiere indie arts organizations known for fostering emerging writers, went “retro” and presented a telethon fundraising event of three programs. Writer-at-large, JEN BUSH, covered the event. This is Part II

Heart Shaped Box

Written by-Tori Barrios

Directed by Kim Barrios Lin

Cast-Eloise-Laura Sisskin, Adam-Marlon Quijija

Review by Jen Bush-12/7/21

Artists have a voice, a vision and a story to tell through mediums such as art, music and theater. What they need is an opportunity. Playful substance provides those crucial opportunities as well as support to artists. This is what Playful Substance is all about in their own words:

Playful Substance is a New York based theater company dedicated to fostering new works through our Writers Groups, developmental workshops, community events and fully staged productions. We believe that lifelong artist development, work-life balance, and the vitality of an inclusive creative space are integral to the artist’s practice. “Playful Substance” is the mission; substantive work approached with joy, cooperation, sensitivity and humor.

Their Pithy Party is an annual event putting Playful Substance’s writer’s groups in the spotlight with staged readings featuring excerpts of works in progress directed and read by company members and friends. This year’s event was roughly four hours long and showcased 10 writers, 10 directors and 30 cast members. The live performances were spread out over 3 seatings. The online performance featured bonus content such as artist interviews and a more in-depth look at Playful Substance.

Many of us, especially New Yorkers who enjoy a good shindig have experienced nights where you just don’t remember how you made it home. Bonus if you still had your wallet and phone in the morning. Poor Adam has one of those nights. Tequila was not his friend. There was a Hells Angels encounter and “military grade pepper spray wings.” That is hands down the best description of wing sauce I ever heard. Adam runs into his girlfriend Eloise who is less than enthusiastically handing out comedy club flyers on a corner. She’s not happy to see him. He’s defeated, queasy and anything but fresh smelling as he attempts to regale her with his plight. Can this relationship be saved? Will anyone accept a comedy club flyer from Eloise? You’ll have to see the show to find out.

The actors did a great job of portraying raw authentic emotions. Each character earned the sympathy of the audience. The story was relatable, especially to young couples navigating through life in New York. I think the finished product has great potential to amuse and entertain. Seeing Adam’s night of debauchery come to life on stage will surely be worth the price of admission.

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