Review: ESSPY at NJ Rep-A Must-See Incisive Comic-Drama


By: Mar. 02, 2024
Review: ESSPY at NJ Rep-A Must-See Incisive Comic-Drama
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Sometimes really smart people dont have any common sense. by Anu is ESSPY

New Jersey Repertory Company (NJ Rep) is launching their 27th Season with a sure fire hit.  The world premiere of Nandia Shenoy’s play, ESSPY will have theatergoers talking about the show and telling their friends to see it.  Expertly directed by Peter J. Kuo and featuring an excellent cast, the show runs through March 17th.

In ESSPY, a bright and promising first-year medical student, William Chen has little or no ability to discuss issues with his patients.  Mentored by the mature and wise physician, Dr. Mendoza, William engages in a simulation program to have his skills evaluated and it is a young actor, Anu Shilpa, who portrays the patients.  The simulation program allows William to practice his doctor-patient communication and diagnostic skills. Set over a number of years, William progresses in his studies and also learns that Anu faces difficult health situations of her own.  ESSPY has many elements to consider and the relatable subject of medical competency, empathy, and professionalism is conveyed with just the right amount of humor. 

Review: ESSPY at NJ Rep-A Must-See Incisive Comic-Drama   

The three-person cast masters Nandia Shenoys finely  written dialogue and portrays the dramatic and comedic moments of ESSPY to perfection.  The company includes Ching Valdes-Aran as Dr. Mendoza; Tim Liu as William Chen; and  Lipica Shah as Anu Shilpa.

Scenes captivate. Some of our favorite include Williams first awkward medical simulation with Anu; Dr. Mendozas discussion with William about the importance of knowing the science; Anu and William discussing her access to medical insurance; Anu speaking to Dr. Mendoza about being an actor; William asking Dr. Mendoza for a recommendation; and the simulation of childbirth with Anu playing the pregnant mother and William attending to her.

The Creative Team has done a top job of developing a realistic medical setting for ESSPY. They include set design by Jessica Parks; lighting design by Jill Nagle, technical direction by Brian Snyder; costume design by  Patricia E. Doherty; and sound design by Nick Simone. The production stage manager is Kristen Pfeifer, and assistant stage manager is Rachael Malloy.

As we head into spring, make plans to visit Long Branch to see ESSPY.  Its a show that we are sure will go far! We applaud Executive Producer, Gabor Barabas, Artistic Director, SuzAnne Barabas and their team for bringing top-notch world premiere plays to the stage.

ESSPY runs for 95 minutes with no intermission. Tickets for the show are now on sale at NJ or by calling 732.229.3166 and seasons subscriptions are also available for a full year of world premiere theatrical productions. New Jersey Repertory Company is located at 179 Broadway, Long Branch, New Jersey 07740. The theatre entrance is in the rear with plenty of free parking. ESSPY will play on Thursdays at 7:30 pm, Fridays and Saturdays at 2 pm & 7:30 pm, and Sundays at 2 pm. 

Photo Credit: Andrea Phox Photography