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BWW Review: Peter Welch's LARRY AND LUCY A Work of Sheer Beauty at Theater for the New City

Now on stage through April 17th

BWW Review: Peter Welch's LARRY AND LUCY A Work of Sheer Beauty at Theater for the New City

Sometimes we get older, but are none the wiser for it. We grow, we experience new things, and the outcome is either good or bad. At that time, we can either reflect with content on our life's work or ponder what went wrong. And sometimes that moment isn't a moment, but a lifetime - a burden placed upon the shoulders of people who have been forced to always reflect and never to live. Whether a person is 16 or 61, life may never have presented them with the reason it was meant to; or, perhaps it once did and was lost, never to find another like it again.

People whose life story has been to struggle, with a lack of understanding as to why they're here, go about accepting this fact differently. Some turn to drugs, while some give it their absolute best to nevertheless find themselves at an impasse with their existence; for others, it's unfortunately both. This particular story I'm about to review is about two characters who portray how many different ways a person can need others in this world. We need a ride, a favor or money to fuel our desires. Sometimes we need to stop the pain, to find a way to make our tomorrow a little less miserable than today; I need you or else I'm lost.

A story of two people sets the stage for some wondrous things to happen. Each understands what the other is going through, and ultimately becomes what the other needs. The story of Larry and Lucy is such a story. An Uber driver jaded by life meets a teenage girl who has turned to drugs in her attempt to alleviate the unrelenting boredom of her life. Through their shared search for purpose do these two characters portray how unfortunate many are to suffer, but also how lucky are those who see their hopes finally realized in the form of fated companionship - by those who, they realize, can make things better. They create the basis of hope, a tale of mismatched beauty and second chances that is as raw and cold as it is inspiring. Larry's Uber toll isn't the only debt to be paid here - it is not the only need that must be figured out.

Now in its final week of performances at Theater for the New City, Larry and Lucy is a captivating play written by Peter Welch and directed by Joe John Battista. Over the course of 75 minutes, Welch and Batista take a deep dive into the lives of two characters who are at different stages of life, but are similarly faced with the burden of unfound purpose. Starring Larry Fleischman* and Chelsea Grace, Welch's play is a powerful testament of the human condition, portraying people who are not only forced to drift through their lives, but to do so with complete acknowledgment of their demise. With this, though, comes the heartwarming basis of this story - an equal sense of unease and comfort in knowing that, as damaged as a person is, there is always another who finds that struggle beautiful. Opposites are known to attract, but when it comes to matters of true understanding, Larry and Lucy form the best kind of relationship that can be. Under Battista's talented direction, the audience is treated to a truly special theatrical gem - a journey that, at its end, brings us to a sense of relief for not only these two lost souls, but also for us. There is hope out there.

Sixteen year old Lucy is an underage resident at the local shelter, a young woman already all too familiar with the cruelness of the world. She is a drug addict who tries to recover on occasion, but remains a martyr rather than reunite with her rich father and face the blandness of life. Larry is an Uber driver who takes Lucy where she needs to be, a betrothed artist who once dedicated his life to creating awe-inspiring murals; he soon finds himself lost and alone. Larry and Lucy cannot help themselves, but they haven't given up on life. Larry is proud to tell Lucy about his murals, and Lucy is excited to see them; Larry wants Lucy to stop doing drugs, while Lucy believes in her own methods too much to let others tell her how to detox. They secretly yearn for something better, but can't see what that something better is on their own. From Los Angeles to Dallas, and from Dallas to a short stint in Atlantic City, Larry and Lucy takes the audience on a semi-comical yet incredibly raw journey into the lives of two characters who search for meaning amidst the confusion of their lives. BWW Review: Peter Welch's LARRY AND LUCY A Work of Sheer Beauty at Theater for the New City

Everything about Larry and Lucy is just right - from the videography incorporated into the play from start to end (giving this production a gritty feel that fits perfectly with East Village vibes), to the lovable characters we're rooting for the entire time, I'm pretty sure no one would have minded if the show extended beyond its 75 minutes. Although, its brevity gives it power - the story perfectly encapsulates the struggles of two characters who are not only existentially lost, but simultaneously addicts, depressed, failing in health and hopeful. Battista's direction is magic, allowing the audience to not only feel during the show, but compelling their collective mind to take over once the metaphorical curtain has closed and think about the story just a bit more. It's difficult to hold an audience's attention in general, but when a show is crafted to such perfection as Larry and Lucy is, there is really very little concern of this happening.

I had mentioned earlier that two people coming together precludes a wonderful story ahead, and this time is no different. Think about a plot involving not love for another, but a repressed love of one's self that has remained dormant for so, so long. For those of you who haven't yet seen this show, you're in for quite a ride.

Where do I even begin with the cast and crew? What a talented group of people, to say the least. Chelsea Grace and Larry Fleischman are wonderful as our two mismatched leads who soon discover they were fated to find each other. Fleischman is clearly a seasoned actor who (I would imagine) has played more than one tough guy in his time. There is very little acting involved as he brings Larry's jaded soul to the stage, resurrecting lost feelings of hope and adventure (and along with that anger and confusion, since his counterpart IS a teenager) with such ease. The audience understands who this man is immediately: a kind-hearted, artistic soul who only ever wanted to create, yet whose past never stops haunting him - and so he lives his life accordingly. Fleischman has such a fatherly feel to him, or at least how I see my own father: someone who was raised in old-school New York who is forever tough, but lovable. We want to see him win, and the same goes for Lucy.

Chelsea Grace has traveled from her homeland of Scotland to bring us the character of Lucy, and not only has the difficult task of portraying a teenager, but also a young woman who is old enough to know that her erratic behavior and drug-induced highs are hurting her; it's basically like playing two people at once. She switches from emotion to emotion with such skill, and truly makes the audience feel like they're not only watching an emotional teenager, but an old soul who has discovered life's hardships a bit too soon. Both Grace and Fleischman complement each other so well, as both want to live. There is a moment that is not even a scene, but between scenes, that has stayed with me all this time. During a transition, after Lucy punches Larry and he is lying on the floor with the lights out, she goes to him and helps him hoist himself up off the ground. It wasn't even a scene, but that is the relationship these two actors have; it's absolutely heartwarming.

Last but not least, Peter Welsh makes a few appearances himself and plays everyone from Lucy's father to various officers of the law. Truly an awesome job. My guests couldn't say enough about this stranger who stepped into multiple roles (before they knew who it was).

Credit must also go to those behind the scenes to make Larry and Lucy happen. Joe John Battista is not only the show's director, but also the video artist who created and incorporated original video clips into the production. Wendy Tonken is the always-trusted Costume, Props and Set Designer, Marsh Shugart is the forever wonderful Lighting and Sound Designer, and Marcus Glitteris created the graffiti/tags found throughout the show. Crystal Field is TNC's Executive Artistic Director, and Peter Welsh is the playwright and producer.

BWW Review: Peter Welch's LARRY AND LUCY A Work of Sheer Beauty at Theater for the New City Larry and Lucy began performances at Theater for the New City (located at 155 1st Avenue, between 9th and 10th Street) on March 30th, and will continue thru April 17th. The performance schedule for all remaining shows is as follows: Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 pm; Sunday at 3 pm. Tickets can be purchased at the door or by visiting www.theaterforthenewcity.net. Theater for the New City is the place to be for new, small-scale productions, and has a great repertoire of shows to come as part of this year's season. They also host many cultural and community events/programs, such as their Annual Summer Street Theater Tour and After School Arts-In-Education program; please visit their website to keep up to date on all new and exciting happenings.

Enjoy the show!



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