March 2008 - Central Park

Dark drama unfolds in the Bethesda Fountain restrooms

A noir thriller, based on actual events that transpired in Dublin, Ireland in the 1950’s was performed last week (3/19 – 3/29) in Central Park. But it wasn’t staged at the Delacorte, and it certainly wasn’t enacted by marionettes in the Swedish Cottage. It was performed in the Men’s and Ladies’ toilets at Bethesda Terrace – and the not so subtle allegory of using the public bathrooms in a play depicting the moral hypocrisy of public officials could not have come at a more topical moment in New York history.

And while the surroundings might have been somewhat off putting, Irish director and playwright Paul Walker found the damp, chill and somewhat noisome interiors to be a critical component in the the theatergoing experience.

In “Ladies & Gents,” his prize winning play, the action takes place near the sinks and urinals; the audience stands, clustered in front of the row of stalls. Each of the two pieces that comprise the play runs simultaneously in both bathrooms, and it doesn’t matter the order in which they are seen; the audience splits in half and switches facilities at intermission.

Walker and Karl Shiels, the artistic director of the experimental Dublin theater troop Semper Fi, decided an actual bathroom was the best place to stage the play. The space is intimate, dark and uncomfortable. In fact theater-goers are further disoriented by being split up, any obvious couple or groups be sent to different facilities to view the play in the opposite order. “When . . . → Read More: Dark drama unfolds in the Bethesda Fountain restrooms


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