Review Roundup: Anne Washburn's 10 OUT OF 12 Opens Off-Broadway

Soho Rep. presents the world premiere of 10 out of 12 by Anne Washburn (Mr. Burns), opening tonight, June 10, and running through July 11, 2015. The production reunites the playwright with Obie Award-winning director Les Waters, Artistic Director at Actors Theatre of Louisville.

The ensemble includes Quincy Tyler Bernstine as Stage Manager, Jeff Biehl as Technician 3, Gibson Frazier as Ben/Charles, Rebecca Hart as Costume, Nina Hellman as Siget/Old Lady/Lucille, Sue Jean Kim as Eva/Marie, Bruce McKenzie as Director, Garrett Neergaard as Technician 2, Bray Poor as Sound, David Ross as Jake/Richard, Thomas Jay Ryan as Paul/Carstairs, Conrad Schott as Assistant Director, Wendy Rich Stetson as Lights and Leigh Wade as Jamie (Assistant Stage Manager).

10 out of 12 takes place during a technical rehearsal, re-creating the multi-layered experience of designers mixing cues, backstage gossip happening over headset and actors passing the time while the director struggles to contain the uncontainable. As these activities unfold simultaneously, the audience is given an intimate glimpse into the act of theater making.

Let's see what the critics had to say...

Ben Brantley, The New York Times: Ever been bored into rhapsody? Every so often, a strange and ecstatic vision rises from the carefully tended tedium of "10 out of 12"...audiences are invited to feel the pain that goes into the business of make-believe...More often, it's numbness - enlivened by flickers of punch-drunk silliness and the flaring of tried tempers - that descends on the participants in this darkness before the dawn of a new production...The play itself - which appears to be a postmodern riff on a 19th-century gothic costume melodrama - is at this point only a thing of fragments, and it often feels as if those disjointed pieces will never cohere. Ultimately, "10 out of 12" suffers from its own lack of cohesion, and I'm not sure that's intentional...The show is at its best when something like accidental art happens, in which restlessness and exasperation mix spontaneously and combustibly with the unassembled elements of the play...The ensemble members...are adroitly charming, irritating and irritated, as the occasion requires...I can say that the evening's accumulated frustrations blend joyously into a wholly original love song to the maddening art of the theater.

Marilyn Stasio, Variety: Aside from the omission of a frantic midnight run for pizza, Anne Washburn's "10 Out of 12″ is an excruciatingly detailed and totally realistic rendering of an all-night technical rehearsal at some small, unnamed downtown theater. Les Waters...wrangles the 14-person ensemble at downtown's Soho Rep with a sure hand and a keen sense of irony. The busy tech crew, who live (and die a little) for this night, are terribly earnest. The actors, mere chess pieces at tech, are terribly bored. The unfocused director is terribly disengaged. And the whole thing is terribly funny.

David Cote, Time Out NY: By writing a semirealistic play about the tedious process of creating illusion, Washburn finds the beauty and strangeness of playmaking, the nobility of an often futile pursuit...The ensemble is a mix of wry troupers (Gibson Frazier and Nina Hellman), nervous newbies (Sue Jean Kim and David Ross) and the magnificent Thomas Jay Ryan as Paul, playing what is termed in the industry a difficult actor. That means his innocent question about motivation turns into a ridiculously grandiose rant about artistic endeavor...There's a lot of sets being moved and lights brightening and dimming. Audience members wear wireless earpieces, so we get a constant stream of gossip, jokes and cue-calling from the highly professional but put-upon crew. I should note that boredom is a component of 10 Out of 12...which has been directed with incredible attention to detail and tone by Les Waters. The density of information and layered narrative is thrilling, yet at more than two-and-a-half hours, it's still an endurance test.

Joe Dziemianowicz, New York Daily News: If you think watching a play can get tedious, you should try staging one...Plays don't get more meta. But you don't have to be a theater geek to appreciate the human behavior on display. We watch actors behave like pros and idiots as they rehearse the show within the show...We see the same actors cooling their heels. At the same time, we hear unseen crew members gossip and gab and designers work out lighting cues through an earpiece we're given. Running more than 2-1/2 hours, the show goes on too long -- and maybe that's on purpose. But it's also a telling glimpse at the divide, or lack thereof, between the personal and professional...Between digesting what's going on before our faces and being fed into our ear, "10 Out of 12" assumes stereophonic, if not symphonic, dimensions. As an audience member, you'll look at shows with fresh eyes and ears -- and marvel that any acting goes on at all.

Elisabeth Vincentelli, New York Post: Chaos, delays, back-stabbing: With everything that happens behind the scenes, it's a miracle theater ever makes it to an audience. At least that's the impression we get from the new "10 Out of 12," which takes place during a play's tech rehearsal - it's like a backstage backstage show...Shockingly, for a show that's basically about drudgery, "10 Out of 12" isn't boring at all, though it goes on a little long...this is no straightforward docu-play - Washburn, director Les Waters and the Soho Rep company are too offbeat for that...As we track the rehearsal, we become familiar with the fake show's power games...The one person missing is the fictional play's author - a certain Carla who's often mentioned but never seen. Too bad: She's missing a good show.

Jesse Green, Vulture: Anne Washburn's odd and often hilarious new comedy...takes on the perverse challenge of making theater out of the only part of the theatrical life that almost everyone hates: the intense, soul-crushing boredom of tech rehearsals...The days without daylight, the erratic eating, the numbing repetition, and the fear that nothing is working (or ever will) have often been enough to traumatize a cast and damage a show aborning...The emotion we usually expect to derive from humans in a play are instead transferred onto objects and processes...But I found 10 out of 12 exceptionally funny and moving, the more so for the mystery of how either reaction was produced. Perhaps it was the result of Washburn's patience in sticking with her perversity; the payoff came when, eventually -- and, some people apparently felt, not a moment too soon -- a human drama began to emerge out of the randomness...Indeed, the entire cast, under the jaw-droppingly fine direction of Les Waters, is dead-on.

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