Seeing a show that’s kind of about Justin Timberlake at the Cedar Riverside People’s Center Theater is a lot like seeing an ‘N Sync concert at Target Center, only without 99% of the people and with the addition of free snacks. Five performers took the stage and had the fans—er, audience—laughing, crying (on the inside), and shivering in reaction to the heartfelt and raw prose; we were downright giddy to be in the presence of a modern masterpiece.
Set design literally plays a role in the production: playwright Sheila Callaghan personifies The Apartment as actor John T. Zeiler. He is The Window, The Carpet, The Walls, The Floorboard, and so on; he is omnipresent but neglected, empathetic yet conniving, and conjures drama as much as he strives to quell tension. A year after the tragic loss of a husband and father, a mother and daughter cope by seeking comfort not in each other, but in their fantasies—starring Harrison Ford and Justin Timberlake, respectively. The conflict culminates in an explosive scene on Christmas morning.
|crumble (lay me down, justin timberlake), presented at the cedar riverside people’s center through march 26. for tickets ($18) and information, see swandivetheatre.org.|
The modest venue creates an atmosphere conducive to the play’s intimate nature. You can smell the tuna permeating the air as Debra Berger (Barbara: token cat lady) feeds her furry children. The close quarters highlight the eerie presence of the father, Aaron Konigsmark, who manifests the harrowing male figure in each woman’s fantasy.
The show made me think about humor, and about what we as humans find to be funny. The premise? Not that hilarious. The title? Erotic and slightly enigmatic, but not chuckle-inducing. So why were we in stitches for the play’s entirety? Sure, the dialogue is witty and Roneet Aliza Rahamim as Janice, the seventh grader with the mouth of a trucker, is comically abrasive. But the character is a deeply disturbed teenager dealing with events not in her maturity level to handle, and the inability of Heather Meyer, as Mother, to connect with her is heartbreaking. But laughing in spite of and in the face of the bleakest of times is what keeps us keeping on, and has the power to bond people in the least likely of circumstances.
This isn’t the boy-band reunion you may have been hoping for—it’s so much more. Where else will you find a seamless union of pop music and dark humor with no strings attached? (Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.)