Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Empire Stage: Last Call (3 reviews)

First Step Productions and Empire Stage opened the world premiere production of Terri Girvin's Last Call on April 12, 2012.
Two worlds collide when our bartender's needy and quirky customers fight for her attention as she deals with a barrage of desperate phone calls from her self-medicating, about-to-be-homeless mother. A typical day in a bartender's life is full of snap judgments and snappy comebacks, but on this night Terri is forced to choose between coming to her mother’s rescue – or her own.
Michael Leeds directed Terri Girvin.

Christine Dolen reviewed for The Miami Herald:
Energetic and expressive, good at miming the fast-paced routine of a bartender’s busy night, Girvin has crafted an autobiographical show that digs into an unusual family history while offering revelatory tidbits about what goes on in a neighborhood bar.
Directed by Michael Leeds, with an absolutely vital and superb sound design by Phil Pallazzolo and David Hart, Last Call keeps tugging the engaging, funny Girvin from present to past, from the bar to the giddy messed-up life of her mother Gwen. Girvin plays herself and sometimes her mom, with other actors supplying the voices of the bar’s customers, Girvin’s remarried dad and her three brothers.
Last Call is a modest little play with great sound design. It is, by turns, funny, touching and sad as Girvin flips the script on the typical bartender-customer relationship, in a good way. This time, the bartender is the one telling the stories.
Roger Martin reviewed for miamiartzine:
Well-directed by Michael Leeds, Last Call is an eighty-five minute autobiographical one act set in a New York neighborhood bar and Girvin is the bartender and sole performer who splendidly interacts with the taped customers' voices and sound effects. She also plays the part of her own mother. Who calls incessantly throughout the show.
The voice-overs and the sound effects are extraordinarily well done. It requires no stretch to visualize the lone drunken regular, the rowdy group of guys, the girls and their wine, the anxious guy waving his money for attention. Two sound designers get credit for this excellent work: Phil Palazzolo and David Hart.
By its nature, Last Call fits well into the small space that is Empire Stage. The set is sparse, but that's just fine as Girvin paints a no longer young woman proud of her different upbringing by her different mother, but equally saddened by her mother's slow descent into a personal hell.
Bill Hirschman reviewed for Florida Theater On Stage:
The world premiere of Terri Girvin’s funny and even touching tour through the interior life of someone people take for granted is a modest gem worthy of dropping in at faux tavern inside the tiny Empire Stage.
Last Call instantly grabs the audience as Girvin enters the bar to set up for the night. Girvin, a diminutive woman with a faint blue collar air, wins us over with a self-deprecating, world-weary wit, a sharp eye for human foibles and a willingness to expose the secrets of a good bartender such as placing the napkins on the bar in a way that cuts down the number of steps she’ll take on the 11 miles she’ll walk tonight.
The transplanted New Yorker has been developing the piece for quite some time with local director Michael Leeds and sound designers Phil Palazzolo and David Hart. The end result is an amazingly smooth and fluid piece of theater.
Last Call is one of those nice surprises for serial theatergoers who will find themselves suddenly charmed by an entertaining and intriguing piece of work.
Last Call plays at Empire Stage through May 5, 2012.

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