By Will Kern
Directed by Akia
Rising Sun Performance Company
UNDER St. Marks Theater
94 St. Marks Place (212-868-4444)
Non-union production (closes Dec. 10)
Review by Seth Bisen-Hersh

Hellcab takes place in a cab in Chicago. It follows one driver for a few nights as he picks up an assorted array of patrons. Part comedy, part drama, Rising Sunís production made the audience both laugh and cry.

Hellcab is told in vignettes -- tiny sketches of different clients. There are drug addicts, sex addicts, religious addicts -- addicts of every shape and form. Basically it starts off funny and then at the end finds a serious tone.

The funniest skit for a New York audience was the one with stereotypical New Yorkers, for everyone in the audience could relate. It was harder to relate to the drug or religious addicts, for example, but they still made for amusing scenes. Another highlight was the customer who seduced the driver.

The show was a bit too long -- some of the skits meandered too much and a few seemed superfluous. Ninety minutes is a long time for one act -- the show probably would work better as a seventy-five-minute show. Some of this could be attributed to the slow transitions of the production, but they probably only added an additional five minutes.

Acting-wise, the show was very strong. The ensemble maneuvered both the funny and serious moments with aplomb. Of particular note was Nic Mevoli, the only one on stage for almost the entire show. He gave a sincerely touching performance as the at times confused, excitable, and apathetic cab driver.

The director, Akia, kept the show moving and brought out remarkably insane performances from her actors in some cases and deep, meaningful ones in others. Laura Jellinekís set design consisted of an actual cab, which was in itself very impressive. Jessa-Raye Courtís costumes were apropos. Di Dragoís sound design was sporadic -- sometimes there was music, sometimes there was nothing. The radio switching cues, however, were well-done and exhibited deft craftsmanship.

Overall, Hellcab was about 10 minutes too long, but was both over-the-top and deeply honest in parts. The production itself showcased its talented cast and creative team, and for only $15 was well worth the audienceís time and money.

Box Score:

Writing: 1
Directing: 2
Acting: 2
Set: 1
Costumes: 1
Lighting/Sound: 1

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Copyright 2005 Seth Bisen-Hersh