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The Great Divide

The ins and outs and ups and downs of a relationship that skillfully escapes clichés.

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Amy Crossman in a scene from her one-woman show “The Great Divide” at HERE Arts Center (Photo credit: Isaiah Tanenbaum)

Joel Benjamin

Joel Benjamin, Critic

Does it matter how autobiographical Amy Crossman’s The Great Divide at the HERE Arts Center is?  A production of the Boomerang Theatre Company, Divide is Crossman’s one-person play about a relationship that proved to be as beautiful as it was problematical.  The situation is clichéd, but the presentation is first rate.

It began in a coffee shop and ended with damaged psyches.

Crossman, giddy and quite drunk, is attracted to Eli whom she had met.  Empowered by his invitation to his New Year Eve party, she imagines a budding relationship.  She wears a glittery short dress—costumes by Brynne Oster-Bainnson—that she hopes will attract Eli’s attention amongst all the party guests.  It does.

So far, Divide is straight out of sitcom land.  She does throw up and pee in the onstage toilet—delightfully messy set by Ant Ma—but, that’s also par for the course in today’s sitcoms, I guess.  (I question, though, why she chooses to show herself urinating twice.)

Their love blossoms despite its embarrassing, but very human, launch.

They eventually move in together to escape Eli’s drunken buddies, but their performing careers put a strain on their relationship, particularly when her acting career takes her to London where she finds that Eli has eliminated all her photos from his Facebook site.

Amy Crossman in a scene from her one-woman show “The Great Divide” at HERE Arts Center (Photo credit: Isaiah Tanenbaum)

There is nothing particularly special about the course of their affair until it takes a dark turn at the end, partly a copout and partly a gut punch.

What raises the play above sitcom status is Crossman’s ability to be both casual and intense at the same time.  The theater is tiny and she tailors her performance to the intimacy of the performance space.  She easily gets away with speaking directly to the audience with her combination of girlish pleasure and adult satisfaction and gives a totally absorbing portrait.

Derek VanHeel’s lighting makes the most of the tiny stage and Sam Kaseta’s unobtrusive sound design adds depth to Crossman’s writing.

Director Scott Ebersold keeps Crossman to a fast pace without stressing the occasional glib writing.

The Great Divide is part of the SubletSeries@HERE.

The Great Divide (through October 22, 2023)

Boomerang Theatre Company

HERE Arts Center, 145 Sixth Avenue, in Manhattan

For tickets, visit http://www.HERE.org/shows/the-great-divide

Running time: 75 minutes without an intermission

Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Joel Benjamin
About Joel Benjamin (540 Articles)
JOEL BENJAMIN was a child performer on Broadway and danced with leading modern dance and ballet companies. Joel has been attending theater, ballet and opera performances ever since childhood, becoming quite opinionated over the years. He was the founder and artistic director of the American Chamber Ballet and subsequently was massage therapist to the stars before becoming a reviewer and memoirist. He is a member of the Outer Critics Circle.

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