By James Foritano
Boston, MA – I don’t remember seeing so many bodies strewn over a stage, in this case a small, intimate stage, unless, say, I was attending a Shakespearian tragedy — Hamlet comes bloodily to mind — as I recently saw at the Hub Theatre Company of Boston’s presentation of Israel Horowitz’s “6 Hotels” at Club Café. Perhaps more aptly, it seemed to reignite my own Cowboys and Indians fantasies from when, as a child of the 1950’s, I spotted a villain behind every bolster, slew them with arrow, bullet and war club, et al., only to resurrect them to tussle again.
Such delicious slaughter I thought I had to put away with childish things, but now, as a man and roving critic, a little get-up-and-go and much good luck picked us off the sofa and transported myself and wife to a tight little production by the Hub Theater Company of six feisty playlets by Israel Horowitz.
What does common humanity seem to do best, especially common urban humanity, with so many right and wrong choices lying about, but shoot itself in the foot or maybe the foot next to its own? Some suffer lengthily, to the deeply tickled schadenfreude of the audience, some, wrong-headedly offer to relieve themselves or other victims with amateur surgery. We feel their pain.
Lauren Elias, Johnnie McQuarley, Ashley Risteen and Matthew Zahnzinger, writhe, wriggle, grimace through every self-knotted dilemma humanely possible, and some so supremely tangled that the gods must be leaning down to lend a hand.
Viewers enjoy deft scene changes from the hotel’s bar to a bedroom to a dining room to an adjoining concert/dance stage. Even more refreshing are the transformations the script demands from the same four actors. They enlist their other selves so adroitly that we recognize ourselves in those fleeting moments when strange, but often self-engineered circumstances, demand we step to lively rhythms we seem to be making up, yet following as if pre-determined. And they do it with brio.
These moments, not infrequent, nudge the balletic social comedy into pockets where whispers of existential angst reverberate in that second sense we often leave behind when going out for a night “on the town.”
Only listen through the laughter for those etched nuances.
(The Hub Theatre Company of Boston presents Israel Horowitz’s “6 Hotels” through November 22 at Club Café, 209 Columbus Avenue, Boston. Performances take place Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and on Sunday at 2 p.m. All performances are “pay what you can.” For more information, visit http://www.hubtheatreboston.org.)