Directed by Alex Correia, the seven different plays presented each serve a purpose. The Heart Attack, which opens the show, is solemn yet silly. Taking place in a hospital, Nate Rollins is a patient who thinks he is having a heart attack, and Shane Allen is the Doctor assigned to his case. The premise is initially that of just a hypochondriac in action, but once the check-up has been completed, the tone changes to that of a more poignant and meaningful exchange between two grown men. While not all the plays are equally as funny, humor is present throughout the entire evening to keep the overall tone on the lighter side.
The final of four plays in the first act is Prix-Fixe, a bizarre exchange between a restaurant hostess and a passerby. Kara Dudley’s hostess, positioned outside of her restaurant and corralling the pedestrians of the Upper West Side inside for lunch, engages John Egan—a modern day greaser dressed in all black—in conversation to see if he finds the lunch offer enticing. At first, the glances taken by Egan at Dudley’s innocent-looking hostess are anything but well-intentioned, but as much as one can ever judge a book by its cover, what begins as small talk leads to an interesting and thought provoking ultimatum.
The plays of the second act examine more carnal subjects such as sexuality and intimacy, and are of a decidedly darker breed of humor. The Sleepover, featuring Quinn Vogt-Welch and John Egan (a handful of actors in the ensemble are cast in multiple plays), presents a look at two lovers looking to spice up their relationship. A highlight of the evening, this clever take on role-playing in relationships has much to say about typical gender roles and is consistently laugh-inducing.
The final one act presented also incidentally features the largest cast of the evening. A grand finale of sorts, The Needle through the Arm Trick gives the audience a glimpse of a couple’s only dinner party. Pat (Matt Reeves), the host of the party, discovers that his guest Duncan is a magician. Though Sam Gilroy’s Duncan is indeed a magician, he emphatically states that he does not perform magic tricks at house parties—only during shows. This does not sit well with Reeves’ Pat, who feels entitled to some entertainment as a sign of respect for hosting the party. By design, Pat is all-too-familiar a stereotype, an obnoxious and aggressive alpha-male who doesn’t understand the word no.
Covering a number of different social situations and relationships, Adults Only is a highly entertaining evening broken up into seven very different plays. With consistent writing from Dean Imperial, an effective arrangement of the plays, and solid performances throughout, there is as much to be laughed at as there is to be contemplated in Core Artist Ensemble’s latest production.
Adults Only (through February 21, 2016)
Core Artist Ensemble
TBG Theatre, 312 West 36th Street in Manhattan
For tickets, visit http://www.coreartistensemble.com
Running time: one hour and 45 minutes including one intermission