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Review Roundup: SANDBLASTED Opens at the Vineyard Theatre

The production is now playing at the Vineyard Theatre until March 13.


The World Premiere of sandblasted is now playing at the Vineyard Theatre until March 13.

Marinda Anderson (Miss You Like Hell), Brittany Bellizeare (The Bluest Eye, "American Rust"), Andy Lucien ("The Blacklist"), Rolonda Watts ("Rolonda") star in the newest work from Charly Evon Simpson (Behind the Sheet), recipient of The Vineyard's 2019 Paula Vogel Playwriting Award and a 2018-20 WP Theater Lab Alum. sandblasted is directed by Elliot Norton Award-winning director Summer L. Williams in her New York City debut.

Angela (Bellizeare) and Odessa (Anderson) are on a sandy search for something that might not be real but they are determined to make a way out of no way. When they stumble upon ADAH (Watts), that's right THE Celebrity-turned-Wellness-Maven Adah, they decide to follow her lead not knowing that the journey could very well be the cure. sandblasted is a deeply stirring, funny, theatrically daring story of waiting and hoping, time and healing.

Last night, the show officially opened. Let's see what the critics are saying!

Jesse Green, New York Times: The actors, under the direction of Summer L. Williams, are all enjoyable, making the most of characterful writing when it's provided, and doing what they can with the big gulps of self-conscious poetry Simpson has otherwise asked them to deliver. And "sandblasted" - a coproduction of the Vineyard and WP theaters - looks handsome, too, its surreal landscape represented in Matt Saunders's set by heaps of sand, a cotton-ball sky and doors and windows cut into the cycloramic horizon. The witty costumes (by Montana Levi Blanco) and alfresco lighting (by Stacey Derosier) help counter the vagueness of time and locale. Despite those felicities, the play, with 18 scenes totaling an hour and 40 minutes, is too long for its own good, a problem not ameliorated by stodgy pacing and shaggy transitions.

David Finkle, New York Stage Review: From start to finish Bellizeare and Anderson perform like a pair of longtime BFFs. The fun they look to be having with each other-their expressions kaleidoscoping, their arms waving-is so infectious that they keep the audience plugging for Angela and Odessa long past the time the perplexed ladies indulge in the repetitive discussions.

Joe Dziemianowicz, New York Theatre Guide: Guided by director Summer L. Williams, all four actors click and deftly bring out the story's funny and deeper shadings. As the play proceeds through 18 relatively bite-sized scenes on Matt Saunders's evocative sandy set, the pacing sometimes stalls as the story periodically restates itself. If the precise message of the play remains somewhat elusive in the end, it's a thoughtful and worthwhile work.

Helen Shaw, Vulture: The sand of sandblasted is the play's main image, enough so that it stops being a "setting" and starts becoming the meaning and texture of the parable itself. It drifts and sifts and scatters, as does Simpson's story, which never coheres into a solid landscape. Scenes flash forward and backward in time (the friends' first meeting with Adah comes quite late in the show), and the constant avowals of resilience and support start to seem exchangeable too. In her dialogue, which is laid out on the page as poetry but spoken as prose, Simpson likes a malleable vagueness that can contain opposites.

David Hurst, Talkin' Broadway: The cast, which also includes the superfluous character of Jamal, Angela's brother (Andy Lucien), do what they can with Simpson's meandering structure which bounces around in time for no apparent reason. Watts, a former television journalist and talk-show host, is particularly wonderful as the Oprah-esque Adah, and Bellizeare and Anderson do what they can with their characters, though they frequently resort to "schtick" while they plod endlessly through the sand. At its core, however, the women continue to try to heal themselves, and each other, but the uneven sandblasted doesn't make it easy for anyone, especially the audience.

Joey Sims, Theatrely: sandblasted finds some gently moving moments in its final scenes, as Angela and Odessa settle into an understanding that their search for peace and healing may be unending. If the play's final image is poignant, it still feels undermined by dramaturgical confusion-I struggled to figure out if one character was meant to be real or imagined by this point. Simpson is a talented playwright with an exciting future ahead, but sandblasted ultimately fizzles.

To read more reviews, click here!

Related Stories
Photos: Go Inside Opening Night of SANDBLASTED Photo
Vineyard Theatre and WP Theater are now presenting the World Premiere of sandblasted at Vineyard Theatre (108 East 15th Street), playing until March 13. 

Photos: First Look at the World Premiere of SANDBLASTED Photo
Vineyard Theatre and WP Theater have announced that the World Premiere of sandblasted will add a week of performances ahead of its opening night on February 27 at Vineyard Theatre (108 East 15th Street). sandblasted began previews on February 6 and will now play until March 13. 

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