On Saturday, October 20th, I stepped out the door of my South Philadelphia home to review John Rosenberg’s self-concieved, two person-show Alp D’Huez at the Papermill Theater on Ormes Street in Kensington. Staring Jennifer Summerfield, and Rosenberg, himself. Directed by Josh Mcllvain.
Normally as a critic, I believe its unprofessional to focus on anything beyond, understanding the content of a play, and ultimately critiquing how a company executes the material. But Alp D’Huez is a special case because:
1) It was the first show I was assigned to review for Philadelphia Weekly
2) John Rosenberg is a DIY-playwright/actor/theater artist transplanted from Los Angeles who is not only producing his own independent brand of theater, but he is doing it well.
3) Theater-patrons largely overlook Hella Fresh Theater because the Paper Mill Studios is not a traditional theatrical space located in an unsavory area of Kensington.
Therefore, its my duty as a critic to tell you, Philadelphia: Who cares if there are broken down houses on Ormes Street with unhinged car doors, and kitchen sinks in their front yards? Do not be deterred, keep walking, and I’ll take you back to Saturday, October 20th:
The Paper Mill Studios is the perfect venue because John and his fiance, Yael, have stripped their theater of all pretense. On the ground floor of a building filled with five floors of artist studio spaces on top of it, John’s Hella Fresh reminds patrons that: theater is an ephemeral work in progress. Come in jeans as you are and grab a beer.
30-seconds into the 2 o’clock matinee of Alp D’Huez, I was convinced that Rosenberg is a man who can act as well as he can write. This play is set in 2001, Lance Armstrong just won the Alpe D’Huez-Tour de France Triathlon, and American tourists, a husband and a wife are examining the anatomy of their marriage in a Parisian hotel room.
My review never made it to print, so I will post it, as I submitted it in the PW-30-second Review format:
Overall Vibe: Kensington cops may ask why you’re on dilapidated Ormes Street, but don’t get rattled-the play happening inside the Paper Mill theater satisfies like mom’s chicken noodle soup.
Most Memorable Moment: When this couple goes to the bathroom they go without exiting or closing a door- this intimate play gets microscopic.
Scene Stealer: Jennifer Summerfield. John Rosenberg’s performance is an extension of his organically immediate text, but Rosenberg’s words hit Summerfield like baseball bats slamming her in the gut.
Keep an eye out for my review of Hella Fresh Theater’s current production, The Gambling Room, running now through June 9th at the Papermill Theater, 2825 Ormes Street.
Located a few blocks from Kensington and Lehigh Avenues in the Papermill Arts Collective is a five-story warehouse featuring artist workspace, an art gallery, a community library. Parking is free, and for public transportation, take the Market Frankford line to the Huntington Stop. www.hellafreshtheater.com or call 510-292-6403. Or read this review again, and more on Phindie.com