Written by Celestial Zenith; Directed by Shannon Stowe
Part of the 2014 Frigid New York Festival
Off Off Broadway, Solo Show
Runs through 3.9.14
Under St. Marks, 94 St. Marks Place
by Shoshana Roberts on 3.5.14
Celestial Zenith in A Date for the Evening.
BOTTOM LINE: A divorced woman divulges her life while speed dating in this thought-provoking one-woman show.
The eyes are the window to the soul? Celestial Zenith's certainly are. They are more specifically comparable to great big bay windows that have just been scrubbed with glass cleaner. Her body and mind are both put on display as a connected unit through that window. She is believable as you watch a real person unravel her brain in this one woman show. Despite a few minor line hiccups she didn't bat an eye. This show is still in its early stages, but Zenith has combined a wonderful acting talent with her newly found writing skill.
Stepping in front of the audience, Shannon Stowe's creative choreography is presented by Zenith's physical form. With stretching, breathing and dance combined into one interesting routine the audience sees the ambivalence and excitement of The Girl (Celestial Zenith) preparing for an ordeal. Zenith's eyes show her not just going through the motions, but exhibiting this character's apprehension and confidence simultaneously.
As the show progresses we see The Girl work her way through a night of speed dating. Emotional turmoil, distraught laughter, and everything in between is brought to the table. With the central theme being her ex husband, she talks many an ear off about her past unhappiness and wonders if “the stench of marriage” will ever leave her. Flashbacks to conversions with her selfish ex are added throughout. She knew he didn't give a rat's ass about her, but married him anyways with disgust in her stomach as she ignored her own happiness. As the bell rings and she begins a new topic with each prospective partner, her phone buzzes from a somewhat unwanted suitor. Other rotations circle around to conversations about her family and childhood. With some kvetching she knows she's wasting her breath in comparison to others who have “#ghanaproblems”. Eventually her point of focus culminates to New York City. Small talk does take place, but the spectrum of topics is well rounded.
Zenith and Stowe collaborated cohesively on this piece to the point that I was not able to see any ripping seams, or even a loose thread. The stitches that make up this woven tale are tight and smooth. How the environment is set up is where Zenith really shows her unique flair. It is a setup for success. With speed dating there is a time limit to each conversation and then it is on to a new imaginary scene partner. Zenith convinced me completely that she was conversing with someone new, regardless of the dialogue. It was her eyes once again, and then her posture and her chemistry with the unknown person sitting in front of her that did this. With her commitment to her character I felt her bring varied energies to respond to each individual man that we could not see.
This show is not necessarily for everyone. But while it might not dazzle, it will certainly offer a strange and thought-provoking perspective. It made me analyze my own life. That being said, it does include some clever jokes and it offers countless subjects as mind candy that I know I will be noshing on for the foreseeable future. Celestial Zenith brings a unique and enjoyable perspective to the solo show genre.
(A Date for the Evening plays as part of the 2014 Frigid New York Festival at Under St. Marks, 94 St. Marks Place, through March 9, 2014. There is one remaining performance on Sunday, March 9th at 2:05PM. Tickets are $5-$15 and are available at frigidnewyork.info or by calling 212.868.4444.)