The Golden Smile by Yaakov Bressler and directed by Joey Stamp is an absurd, hilarious and energetic play that is sure to break the winter funk. The play opens with a group of characters, patients to be more exact, in a mental institution. The patients try to create a play that will save their privileges in the recreational room. Some patients have an ulterior motive to win the heart of their beloved Claude–who is never seen but heard about in songs. Theatergoers enter the patients’ world, which is filled with twists and turns, and witness what the patients will do to write their play.
The cast is fun and filled with energy. The audience gets to see a glimpse of the characters’ mental conditions and personalities. However, their personalities can be more diverse and more nuanced as the play provides the space for this type of character exploration. One actor that stands out is Sofiya Cheyenne (Group Leader). Cheyenne is captivating and delivers a strong and engaging performance. Cheyenne really puts a punch to the witty and sarcastic lines. The entire cast, Andy McCain (Writer), Jody Doo (Sarcastic Actor), Flynn Harne (The Messenger), Robert DiDomenico (Loathing Actor) and Isaac Boorstin (Angry Actor) are talented and versed in both acting and musical theater.
The songs are playful, graphic and wacky. Composer and Musical Director Zach Stamp matches the music with these wonky characters. The music moves along with the tone and nature of the play. Costume and Prop Managers Rivkah Spolin, Shelly Ben-Yshay and Carrie Pieper designed the set and costumes accordingly. The set and costumes coordinate with the vibrant personalities on stage. They do an excellent job alongside Stamp’s direction. The creative team piece this insane world together for audiences to be hooked for a whole hour!
There are two plots in this play: one of the actual play and the other of the characters’ creative play. The big plot flows and the audience clearly understands the wants of each character. They all collectively want to write this play but they have different ideas and direction on how to go about it. How they figure it out is the fun part for the audience. Eventually, the group comes to an agreement and they have a play. Their play’s plot gets a little sloppy when they begin their quest for the Golden Smile. Then again, they are mental patients so their level of coherence may be off. Bressler has to be very clear with his intention at this point. The patients show strength, courage and determination, and represent much of who they are as a group.
In the end, they create a tender story about preservation and happiness, which by the same token is ironic considering their circumstances. They find their “golden smile” as many writers or artists in general find theirs. Bressler seems to be drawing connections to how insane the writing process is for writers and what better way to show this than to have mental patients trying to write a play. It is a wonderful premise and one that many writers would agree with. This is Bressler’s first play–he has a knack for humor and sharp dialogue. Audiences will be excited to see how his work evolves.
The Golden Smile serves to be an exhilarating night at the theater. Watch it for the humor, energy, witty lines and music. It is sure to get everyone walking out with a smile and maybe even a golden one.
The Golden Smile is part of the Frigid Festival, which is showing over 150 performances in two theaters and over the span of three weeks. The festival is founded on the idea of providing theater artists the opportunity to produce their own work.
The Golden Smile runs until March 5 at The Kraine Theater (85 East 4 St. between 2 and 3 Aves.) in Manhattan. Tickets are $15. To purchase tickets, call (212) 777-6088 or horsetrade.info.