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Tuesday
Dec132016

HAPPY XMAS YOU FILTHY ANIMALS // A THEATRE REVIEW OF "WAKE UP CALL"

BY MATEO MORENO

Working on Christmas Eve is the last thing most anyone would want to do. Having to deal with the weather, short tempered customers, and not being with your family is not the most ideal holiday plan. However, sitting through 90 minutes of this holiday season in Veronica Cooper & Adam Thomas Smith's WAKE UP CALL (which recently opened at the intimate IRT theatre), you may change your mind just so you might possibly spend an evening with the charming characters here. The setup is this: It's Christmas Eve at the Vestry Hotel and four twenty-something slackers are working the night away. There's the front desk crew of Jessica (Cooper) and Ann (Jennifer Teska) and in the lobby we have Derek (John Racioppo) and Chip (Chris Gebauer). The play unfolds throughout the evening as we see hard to handle customers come and go, a poor beta fish gets abandoned (oh the humanity!), and secrets come bubbling up to the service. All, literally, in a day’s work.

 

The plot of WAKE UP CALL isn't intricate, and it doesn't need to be. It's a simple told story that's filled to the brim with relatable dialogue, weird "passing the time" games (everyone is going to want to play "I like my women like I like my..." after seeing this), and moving statements on the fear of loneliness and anticipation of love that surrounds this holiday each year. Cooper and Racioppo have great, natural chemistry, both on their own and together. The dialogue is fresh and funny and within its snarky center lies a very warm heart beating for the holiday we all say we hate, but most of us truly loves. Cooper has a naturalistic quality onstage; she's striking without stealing attention and has a wonderful, moving breakdown towards the end of the play. You root for her and she never becomes "cloying" or even worse "adorkable." She's sassy, brassy, and even though she's unsure of what her future should be, she's confident enough in herself that you believe she'll get there soon. Racioppo is sharply funny, giving out a natural charm that never seems dickish, even when he screams at people parking in the "no parking zone (some truly funny moments happen with him literally screaming at cars we can't see and then ending with "Happy Holidays...")." Gebauer and Teska round out the main foursome with strong support and great comic timing as well (especially Gebauer, who often made me laugh just by things his character did in between lines). 

The set is charming and it all feels very cozy; you'd want to curl up in this hotel lobby, and the ensemble all work very well together. All in all, WAKE UP CALL is a charmer. It's warm and fuzzy and full of sarcasm and dirty jokes. Just like I like my holiday season. 


GRADE: B+

Written by Veronica Cooper and Adam Thomas Smith Directed by Adam Thomas Smith Starring Veronica Cooper, John Racioppo, Chris Gebauer, Jennifer Teska, Jory Murphy, and Brian Reilly .Playing now through Sunday December 18th at IRT Theatre, 154 Christopher St. NYC #3B (third floor) . For tickets & more info: http://irttheater.org/3b-development-series/6268/


MATEO MORENO is an actor and a playwright who is also on the board of directors at Athena Theatre. His plays Happily After Tonight, Within Our Walls, Bohemian Valentine and Paper Airplanes have all been produced in NY and beyond. He is currently working on his latest play Fairground Attraction. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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