The 13th Street Repertory Company (TSRC) is in trouble. After 35 years of producing and developing new works and helping young theatre artists hone their skill, the company is engaged in a legal battle with real estate developers who aim to tear down the historic theatre and build a high rise in its place. In response to this threat, TSRC is putting on a benefit show of new works entitled Five Story Walk Up. The six short plays and monologues about “home” are a mixed bag containing varying levels of talent, but that’s to be expected. As an overall experience — from the presence of founding director Edith O’Hara to the layers of history from lobby to stage — the night is inspirational nonetheless.
Over the course of the evening, the minimal set becomes a couple of different apartments, a police lieutenant’s office, a suburban porch, a college town, and an unspecified location in New York City. In Web Cam Woman, playwright Laura Shaine explores the destructive nature of a home without privacy. Bird Feeder, written and performed by Clay McLeod Chapman, shows how a rural home can be oppressive for a young gay man. And notably, Daniel Gallant stands out as the narrator in John Guare’s Blue Monologue, as he powerfully expresses depressed dissatisfaction over his New York dreams that died in Queens. Each of the stories contains a large helping of conflict in and around the home, which is fitting really, considering the real life home-centered conflict acting as impetus for the show itself.