GEEK GIRL REVIEW – (A)loft Modulation Brings Live Jazz To The StageBy Caroline Cao | October 7, 2019 | Entertainment
Geek Girl Caroline Cao is back at the theater and bringing us a new review!
There’s something technical and magical about the way (A)loft Modulation heightens the realism — or impression of — old and present Manhattan through documentary footage, projections and cameras. This world premiered production by Jaymes Jorsling is very much inspired by true events at 821 6th Avenue, 1957 – 1965.
In 1957 in New York City and photographer Steven Samuels (played by Kevin Cristaldi of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame) has quit life. Literally, he quit Life Magazine. Steven arranged his entire home to be its own recording studio, creating over 4,500 hours of audiotape capturing the dialogue of acquaintances and strangers who pass through his apartment. In the present 2019, Chip (Spencer Hamp) has also quit life, or at least the conventional expectations of life, to sit overtime (unpaid) in his makeshift office tuning into Steven’s old recordings and slapping soundbites on his board. His space is adjacent to the past, to Steven’s loft and intersects into it. Troy Hourie’s scenic design characterizes the bare bones of Manhattan, a wooden skeletal apartment/office.
Adjacent to both Steven’s and Chip’s spaces is the Loft Band, banging their drums and playing their sax and bass. Intermingled with the action is the rush of jazz, with a band sizzling along with the actions. The music amplifies the artistic scurries and psychological anguish, where the artists and their acquaintances become both exalted and rushed by impulses. In the most blazing sequence, Cristaldi rushes to hang photos then disassembles them, and his clothesline of photos intersects into the present of Chip’s territory.
The fictionalized artists on stage had forfeited their jobs in favor of pursuing the purity of art — or a “purity” there’re not quite sure to define. Because they strayed from functionality, they stoke tumultuous relationships with their significant others. Chip’s wife is beleaguered by his abandonment of financial and emotional stability. Steven is called out for abandoning his wife and children for a doorless apartment in a seedy part of Manhattan. “No offense, but you are a zombie,” a passing cop comments, scrutinizing his shambles.
Through the bangs and noises, (A)loft Modulation can feel incomplete as if flinging its scraps and seeing what sticks. It’s more about the experience of watching a puzzle attempt to thread itself together than beholding a complete tapestry.
(A)loft Modulation, running at Mezzanine Theatre at the A.R.T./New York Theatres through October 27.