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Review: Game on! Cultures Clash in 1-2-3 MANHUNT at Theater for the New City

1-2-3 MANHUNT RUNS THROUGH October 24, 2021.

Review: Game on! Cultures Clash in 1-2-3 MANHUNT at Theater for the New City
Chris Paul Morales, Santo Fazio
(Photo: Maria Baranova)

Fists fly and cultures clash atop a tenement building in New York's Lower East Side in playwright Tony DiMurro's 1-2-3 Manhunt, where two outsiders on the edge of different generations pledge allegiance to a combustible mentorship to save what's sacred.

Alex (Santo Fazio) swaggers as an unhinged, old-school middle-aged Italian husband/father with a long history and a short fuse. He has returned to his sacrosanct neighborhood to conduct some unfinished business, disillusioned with God, gentrification, his father's legacy, the media ("The newspapers ain't in the business of news, they're in the business of the city and whatever will bring the tourists back! Sell, sell, sell, just keep selling the city...") and himself. At the top of Act 1, Alex uncorks a night-time screed that ranges from racist and misogynistic to wistful and sardonic. He is fueled by memories, longing, and his higher power: "God is great, but vodka is better..the mass weapon of stress reduction."

Alex's plan to cope is interrupted by Alec (a not-so-naive Chris Paul Morales), a Chinese-American teenager who has been regularly retreating to the same rooftop space in search of solitude after school. His dream of playing baseball in the majors has been jeopardized, which conflicts with his family's cultural ethos: "I don't hate hard work. Nobody worked harder than me - especially in the off season...I hate hard work that doesn't pay off."

During a conversation that eventually becomes physically combative, Alex and Alec tackle enough myriad cultural and intergenerational differences to hatch a plot to show that they're mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. If they can't fit in, they intend to lash out.

In Act 2 (the next day) they are discovered by Millie (Ilene Kristen) and Frankie (Anthony Barile), longtime friends of Alex's who use the "1-2-3 Manhunt" childhood game ( a combination of rooftop parkour and hide-and-seek) in an attempt to bring Alex home to his wife.

Review: Game on! Cultures Clash in 1-2-3 MANHUNT at Theater for the New City
Santo Fazio, Chris Paul Morales, Ilene Kristen, Anthony Barile
(Photo: Maria Baranova)

The sharp-tongued Millie (a.k.a. "The Girl") wields a baseball bat like a big-league slugger; you definitely want her on your side. Frankie is a likable manipulator with a knack for storytelling. With their comic timing and no-bullshit approach to problem solving, Millie and Frankie attempt to diffuse a volatile situation.

The American Dream -- deferred or dead in New York 2021? At a time and place where real estate is still a premium during the pandemic, you'll be hard pressed to find more drama per square inch than 1-2-3 Manhunt. Director/Producer: William Roudebush.

1-2-3 Manhunt plays through October 24th at Theater for the New City, 155 First Avenue, New York City. Tickets are available here. All net proceeds go to Big Brothers Big Sisters New York City.

From This Author - Derek McCracken

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