BOTTOM LINE: Tragedy befalls a young couple and they’re left to pick up the pieces. The story is told in nonlinear vignettes, so the audience actively tries to stitch the pieces together themselves. Stitching is well executed in performance and production, but the subject matter is pretty disturbing. If you’re okay with squirm-inducing theatre, this is most definitely a play to see.
Stitching comes to New York from a successful run in London. The story involves a couple, Abby and Stu, who are dealing with their tumultuous relationship after experiencing a tragedy. Both are scarred and scared, and the audience learns the nature of each character as we see them deal with what’s thrown at them. The story is told in a brilliant nonlinear way, and though it’s easy to follow, questions always linger in the air as to which character is the victim and what’s really going on. Playwright Anthony Neilson weaves a clever story complete with a moment of clarity when you realize the truth was always right under your nose. This is truly exciting theatre and well-crafted storytelling.
The play stars Meital Dohan (Abby) and Gian-Murray Gianino (Stu), two actors with extensive credits and experience. Dohan is Israeli and is most recognized in the States from her role on Showtime’s Weeds as Yael Hoffman, the sexy rabbinical scholar; Gianino is a seasoned American stage actor, most recently seen in Eurydice at Second Stage. Because these actors are so talented in their art, they’re able to make their characters palpable; their chemistry is hot and their attention is intense. This is important, since the actions these characters go through are extreme and could easily fall into the trap of unbelievability.
Stitching is referred to as “in-yer-face theatre,” a new British genre whose name was coined by a UK critic. It’s not quite as recognizable in America, though modern playwriting over here is frequently confrontational and aggressive in the same sort of way. A play that’s in-yer-face is one in which what happens on the stage and in the story is disturbing, sometimes gruesome, and usually uncomfortable. The idea is to include the audience on the emotional ride and ask intense questions about life and morality. In-yer-face theatre is often thought-provoking and interesting, and it’s definitely not passive; Stitching is certainly confrontational and makes the audience personally invested in the story. Regarding the original British production, Time Out London‘s critic wrote, “I left the theatre with my pulse, and my mind, racing.” That’s a pretty accurate description of how Stitching gets under your skin.
I really enjoyed it, and I had a lot to talk about when I left the theatre. I definitely recommend it to anyone who likes intriguing storytelling that keeps you engaged and leaves you affected when it’s over.
Stitching plays at the Wild Project, 195 E. Third St. between Aves. A and B, through Saturday, July 19: Mon-Tue 7 PM, Wed-Fri 8 PM, and Sat 2 and 8 PM. Tickets are $45 and can be purchased at ovationtix.com or by calling 212-351-3101. Student rush tickets are $10 and available for purchase at the box office (cash only) two hours before each performance. Visit stitchingtheplay.com for more info, and for more New York theatre reviews and information visit theatreiseasy.com.