It’s strange watching a show like Seven Deadly Sins in New York City right now. Performed in multiple storefronts in front of a guided audience with headsets, the production is a smooth, seamlessly staged affair. But there is chaos all around him – the joy, chaos and noise of a city returning to a turbulent life.
On a Friday night leading up to Pride weekend, the Meatpacking District, home of the show, was teeming with cheering activity. Many of the partygoers, tipsy maneuvering around my roaming audience, were no less wildly dressed than the actors who gestured to us behind the glass – sounds cute, maybe, but true.
All in all, Sins faced a great challenge. The evening sees itself as a provocative exploration of the cardinal sins in seven games in which no topic is taboo. The danger is that instead, for privileged theatergoers, it feels like a game in the dark, while the very real chaos, fame and, yes, sin of a city reborn from trauma – in a neighborhood that is rich on a story that humming with drugs, prostitution, and sex clubs – with a more ingenious edge.
Sins avoids this trap thanks to an impressive roster of playwrights who have not taken their task lightly. When asked to truthfully address a sin in just ten minutes at a time, these authors responded – for the most part – with truly shocking pieces.
Ming Peiffers Longhorn (inspired by Wrath) stands out as the most disturbing work of the evening. A dominatrix whips her newest customer, who has an “Asian fetish”, into shape – until the submissive unleashes a racist, hateful swear word. For a brief moment the full force of the visceral effects of hatred can be felt. The piece is a heavy blow to the pit of your stomach. At a time of increasing hate crimes against Asian Americans, that is exactly the intent.
MJ Kaufman’s Wild Pride (Pride) has a lighter touch, but is no less pointed. The impossible web of expectations of the queer internet conjures influencer “Guru”, a white trans man who takes advantage of advice for isolated queer youth but ends up being canceled when his “Live Your Truth” guide puts some of them at risk. Kaufman captures the contradictions of queer life in the United States, where some can happily monetize their identity while others still live in fear, with quick wit and incredible precision.
Moises Kaufman’s Watch (Greed) is the most straightforward of the seven pieces, packed full of hysterical twists and turns. Kaufman’s direction of the entire evening is strong too, though it could mess up some of David Rockwell’s sets that look a bit too neat and tidy to really feel lived out.
Two of the pieces also end up a little too clean, although they’re fun rides nonetheless. Ngozi Anyanwu’s Tell Me Everything You Know (Vluttony) arrives at an obvious point about the insatiable lure of the devil, though the poetic language is great. Jeffrey LaHostes Naples (Envy) is a whimsical reminder of man’s ability to be shamelessly selfish, even if it’s not a new observation.
Only Thomas Bradshaw’s Sloth feels lazy, although that may be exactly the playwright’s intention. After all, should a sloth-inspired piece feel sluggish too? Something meta could be at play here.
Finally, there is Bess Wohls Lust, an incredible piece with an amazing performance by Donna Carnow at the center (accompanied by Cynthia Nixon as her inner voice). While an exotic dancer is on pole as on any other day, we hear her initially banal inner thoughts – food, recipes, back pain. But when a male patron walks in from the dancer’s past, panic spreads. Lust is a gripping and very individual piece, perfectly shaped.
Especially to see pleasure, many passers-by gathered, a somewhat unpleasant spectacle, since they did not get the accompanying inner monologue. But Carnow’s expressive work might, maybe, still get the message across. If that’s not too much to dream about, then Lust may have for a brief moment merged this play and its surrounding noises into one, if only for one breathtaking, scary and heartbreaking dance.
Seven Deadly Sins is set in the Meatpacking District. Buy tickets for Seven Deadly Sins on TodayTix.
Photo credit: Cody Sloan as ‘Guru’ and Bianca Norwood as ‘Comments’ in Wild Pride (inspired by Pride) by Seven Deadly Sins (Photo by Matthew Murphy)
from American Chiropractors Directory and News – Feed https://www.americanchiropractors.org/back-pain/seven-deadly-sins-brings-downtown-nyc-back-to-life-with-shocking-powerful-theater/