The Labyrinth Theatre Co. is currently in the throes of premiering David Katz’s The Atmosphere Of Memory. The cast, with leads and stand-outs Max Casella, the legendary Ellen Burstyn, the always amazing John Glover and Melissa Ross, keep this chunky 2 and 1/2 hours bouncing between the play-within-a-play and the sometimes cliché but otherwise realistic past and present staining playwright Jon Stone-(played by Casella) so badly he can neither move past them nor very much wants to.
The Bank Street space provides a truly interesting night off Broadway. As an audience member, you can never be that far from the action and to be that close to Burstyn and Glover was a real treat. I’m not sure every aspect of the theatre making part of Memory worked for me and I did get the joke but didn’t think it all that funny of Sidney Williams’ guitar strumming Rex. But these are minor failures for me in the face of hanging-out at Jon’s house with his crazy family; sister Ester played by the roiling Ross, Glover’s lanky wild Murray, Burstyn’s sweet diva Clair all acting and reacting to, with, at and for another.
Director Pam MacKinnon does a masterful job of using all of this truly unique space though I suspect the specifics of blocking or at least how to get around fell on the shoulders of technical director Richard A. Montgomery II more often than not and my hats off to him.
The Atmosphere Of Memory runs at the Bank Street Theater through November 20. For more information, visit http://labtheater.org.