Day: July 19th, 2006

All This Intimacy

Wednesday, July 19th, 2006 | All Things, Arts, Events, NYC History

Promenade Theatre

Saw Rajiv Joseph’s All This Intimacy , world premiering at The McGinn/Cazale Theatre, as part of Second Stage Theatre’s New Plays Uptown series.

The building at Broadway and 76th Street has a long and storied history. In 1929, the Manhattan Congregational Church commissioned the mixed use building to be erected over the site of their old church in order to generate revenue. Above the church’s three story sanctuary, the 626-room Manhattan Towers Hotel opened in Spring 1930. Not the best timing: within two years of opening, the hotel had gone out of business, and Manhattan Congregational Church soon ran into serious financial trouble, due to the loss of rental income and financial mismanagement. Through the next several decades, the fate of the building was in flux: it fell into receivership, was appropriated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, went up for auction (no takers) and was eventually reposessed by the city and used as U.S. Naval Barracks. Following the trend of several large Upper West Side buildings, it served for many years as an SRO, and after an extensive renovation, was eventually converted into coop apartments. The Promenade Theatre now occupies most the space that was originally the church sanctuary.

All This Intimacy Poster

The play’s story centered around a 30-year old poet, who through moral weakness and a series of poor judgments (plus some bad luck), ends up simultaneously impregnating three women: his girlfriend, his married neighbor, and his college freshman student. The first half of the play was more comical, focusing on the whirlwind courtships and possibilities of new relationships; the second was decidedly darker as the toxic consequences of the protagonist’s indiscretions came into play. Well done, all around. Afterwards, there was a post-theatre discussion with the artistic team, including the playwright and the director, Giovanna Sardelli.

The audience was heavy with NYU Writing Program students – Joseph is a Tisch MFA graduate – and their contributions alternated between trenchant observation and random criticism. Responding to the playwright’s query about the message the audience might come away with after seeing the play, one young woman posited: “Men… SUCK.”

Well, yes. Sometimes.

A reception followed with Beard Papa creampuffs (love ) and a tasty port from “America’s Oldest Wineshop,” Acker Merrall & Condit.

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