Brian Sloan’s WTC View is a post 9/11 drama that reveals the individual traumas and experiences of New Yorkers (and others), after the towers fell. Already produced as a film in 2005, now the show is given an airing as dramatic theater at 59E59th. (For those interested in such things, the original film starred Ugly Betty’s Michael Urie in the central role, played here by Nick Lewis.
Sloan has a keen ear for language, and the actors allow his dialogue to roll easily over the audience. The set, a simple wooden floor with a window at one end and a doorway at the other – plus a few scattered boxes – is laid out between two rows of audience members; you can see your fellow attendees on the other side of the action.
A large cast includes Nick Lewis (Eric), Bob Braswell (Jeremy), Leah Curney (Josie), Michael Carlsen (Kevin), Torsten Hillhouse (Jeff), Patrick Edward O’Brien (Alex) and Martin Edward Cohen (Max). There are also an assortment of voices that ring in on protagonist Eric’s apartment. You see, the premise of WTC View is that Eric places an ad for a new roommate on 9/11. In an interesting choice, the roles of each of the prospective roomies – and Josie, Eric’s Upper East Side friend – are played by separate actors. The performances are strong, particularly in light of the exhaustive effort Lewis appears to put forth: with Eric featured onstage through almost 100% of the play (give or take a percentage point) and no intermission, it’s easy to believe the final emotional outburst that comes from his character.
WTV View is an emotionally riveting piece that shines a light on the fragile emotional state of New Yorkers after the city’s greatest tragedy. Each of the prospective roommates opens up a new piece of Eric’s soul, showing the viewer a new facet of the trauma left behind by the destruction of the towers. It’s in these moments that Sloan’s strength as a lyrical writer of dialogue really shines; using his words, performers like Carlsen render the image of a cloud of dust engulfing Battery Park City.
If one moment could be said to encapsulate my relationship to the reality Sloan portrays in WTC View, it is that convinces me of its reality, it part of the closing of Act 1. As F-15s scream over Eric’s small apartment building, 12 blocks from the new Ground Zero, I remembered a day – maybe a year ago – when myself and a friend (who lived here on 9/11) heard jets flying close to our building; far closer than seemed reasonable. For me, the experience was unsettling enough. My friend, on the other hand, was white as a sheet.
For those who lived through the trauma of 9/11 at near proximity, WTC View might prove cathartic – or incredibly upsetting. For those who want a window onto what it felt like to be in Lower Manhattan after the towers fell, this play presents, then opens, the portal to the end of September 2001.
Writer Brian Sloan’s blog can be seen at http://hifibri.blogspot.com.