When do I grow up?




Written by Eastcheap Rep

Directed by Chris Chaberski

Eastcheap Rep (www.eastcheaprep.blogspot.com)

Midtown International Theatre Festival (www.midtownfestival.org)

Dorothy Strelsin Theatre, 312 West 36th Street, 1st Floor

Non-union production (through August 3, 2008)

Review by Sarah Rulfs


The story of a young woman coming of age in an era marked by uncertainty and fluidity, Natalie is the arrestingly relevant, sharply written story of modern-day youth in America. Natalie (Sally Jackson) is a young woman whose story is told over nine years, from her graduation from college to her sister’s wedding and the subsequent moment of enlightenment which leaves her forgiving the past and imagining a brighter future. At its most basic, the play is about a little girl lost, who finds herself with the help of her best friend and a healthy dose of both humility and reality.


Natalie is a solid production, from the realistic script to the honest acting. Jackson gives a remarkably versatile performance which captures the subtle differences between a fresh college grad and a confused young adult. Her playful smile and airy persona teeter on the edge of annoying, but ultimately err on the side of loveable. Peter Chenot, who plays her best friend, does a superb job of keeping her in check without ever preaching; somehow his reprimands always come from a place of love. Special consideration should also be given to Luke Rosen, whose versatility in roles ranging from a “douchebag hipster” to a Craigslist house-hunter to Natalie’s brother is note-worthy. The three play incredibly well together, making the characters real and honest, and making the most of a fresh script.


It’s not a surprise that the show feels so real: the actors and the director cannot be a day over 30. Written by the company, it’s clear that their youth pervades the writing and makes it the chronicle of a true experience. Choppy at the beginning, the script morphs into a finely paced piece full of lush dialogue which gives sufficient back-story without becoming boring.


Given that the show is part of the Midtown International Theatre Festival, the set is simple but effective, with creative pieces like a couch/bed making the space alternately seem like a 20-something’s apartment and a hotel room. The intimacy of the small space mirrors the nakedness of the piece and makes the audience part of Natalie’s struggles. Costumes seem to come straight out of the cast’s closets, but are all the more effective because of it. Just over an hour, the show is equal parts tender and heartbreaking, but ultimately leaves the hope that this generation, like all those which preceded it, will find its way in an increasingly complicated world.


Box Score:


Writing: 1

Directing: 2

Acting: 2

Sets: 1

Costumes: 1

Lighting/Sound: 1


Copyright 2008 by Sarah Rulfs


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