New York City, June 27th, 1969—it’s hot as hell, the air is thick with civil unrest, and Judy Garland’s funeral draws thousands of loyal fans to the Upper East Side. Downtown, it’s just another smack-talking morning on the neighborhood stoop, where sharp-tongued young hustlers Mika and Tano (Gregory Hanley and Arturo Soria) read every unwelcome queen who steps onto their turf.
“Hit the Wall,” is an entertaining yet relatable and raucous re-telling of the 1969 Stonewall Riots, which launched the modern gay rights movement. It is not a typical show that you will see in an off broadway theatre because you experience the emotions of the characters alongside with them as they land their bodies next to your chairs. It is intimate and interactive and all attention is on the action that is happening in the center of the room. The lights dim and the sound comes on and it is as if you are transported back in time to witness the beginning of the movement for yourself.
The set up, acting and the seamless simplicity of an incredibly complicated production is done brilliantly on every level. The only thing that threw me off was the fighting sequence which was great in itself and it is understandable that the use of the strobing light increased intensity of it but the use of light in that manner and was just too much. It was longer than needed and with the loudness of the sound effects it definitely stood out. That is not something that needs too much concentration because overall the show it a "Hit" in my book.
A great play becomes successful when you walk in with minimum expectations and walk out with first identifying with at least one or more characters and second when your emotions are evoked and you feel when a tear slides down your cheek as you empathize with the pain or joy you see presented to you on the stage. You get to laugh or cry when watching as each character develops his or her strength throughout the show and start to cheer or worry for them when things are unclear. There is a flow in this play where the transitions help progress each character and continue the historical/mythical story of this group of outsiders. Each new introduction brings a new story and a new personality with different experiences and we get to know them one by one without realizing that there is much more substance to their individual character then initially thought. Each character represents a type to show the diversity of people that can be found in a very small proximity. It is done for the shock value but also to show that you never know who you are talking to, really. He might just be another ordinary conservative business man coming home from work or he might catch you completely by surprise when it comes down to whom he prefers as for his intimate company.
At the End of the night each person just wants to have fun at the Stonewall Inn where they can drink, dance, get laid, meet new people, celebrate and just be themselves.
Live music which is part of the show adds to its authenticity and well thought out choreography adds to it. You really do feel like you are in 1969. The conviction of each character is outstanding and we will never forget the day of Judy Garland's funeral.
About the Show at Barrow Street Theatre at
27 Barrow Street, New York, NY 10014
The world Premiere of Hit the Wall was presented by The Inconvenience and performed as part of GARAGE REP: three productions presented in rotating repertory in The Garage at Steppenwolf, Chicago, IL. Chris Chmelik, Artistic Director and Emily Reusswig, Executive Director.
directed by Eric Hoff
Nick Bailey, Jessica Dickey, Ben Diskant, Nathan Lee Graham, Matthew Greer, Gregory Haney, Sean Allan Krill, Rania Salem Manganaro, Jonathan Mastro,
Ray Rizzo, Carolyn Michelle Smith, Arturo Soria and Indigo Street.