Homebound Project 4 Review: Promises with Tommy Dorfman, Cherry Jones, Judith Light, Marquise Vilson…

Tommy Dorfman, in sexy black corset and purple wig, exclaims “I’m a Queen…I’m hot,” does an interpretive dance on the bed, puts on lipstick as if host of a makeup show, plays a tambourine, and curses out someone named Tim – perhaps a jilting lover?  Then the telephone rings – it’s Tim, his boss. He takes off his purple wig and changes to his on-the-job voice.

“Assets,” a six–minute play by Diana Oh directed by Lena Dunham, is the funniest  of the 11 new monologues in the fourth starry edition of Homebound Project, an online anthology series of original work,  whose aim is to raise money for No Kid Hungry. The shows, which started in May, have so far collected a total of more than $88,000 by charging ten dollars a ticket.  Besides the plays this time, there is a presentation about the charity, and musical interludes by Diana Oh and Amanda Seyfried on guitar.

The theme of the fourth edition is “promise,” which is interpreted in  various ways. Charly Evon Simpson riffs most directly on the theme in her play “Promise,” in which Adam Faison portrays a character recalling how his father kept his promise to take him to The Phantom of the Opera — and the next day his mother received legal papers from his father filing for custody. Suddenly the promise kept felt like a bribe. Such promises “aren’t the same, they don’t count, they are broken and sordid.”

In the first monologue, “Emily,” by  Erin Courtney, Cherry Jones holds a box, and explains that her friend made her promise she wouldn’t open the box. Like the best of these pieces, the premise may be simple, but the execution is sublime.

In “All The Old Familiar Places” by Jon Robin Baitz, Judith Light is putting on makeup while she is on hold with a pharmacy waiting to find out if they have “three sticks of the YSL Touche Eclat Brightening pens” and a prescription refill. In her rambling conversation with herself, punctuated by a recorded voice from the pharmacy telling her how her call is important to them (performed by Thomas Sadoski), we learn that she was in “the 20th Century Fox Stars of tomorrow talent program” in 1969 – a person of promise, long ago – and that she was recently hospitalized. Light offers a mesmerizing portrait of a woman who has lost it.

There are fewer outright unhinged characters this time around, compared to the third edition, but Lisa Edelstein puts in a persuasive performance as a mother exasperated by her grown daughter Sarah, and is stalking her from her car, in “Really, Sarah?” written by Janine Nabers

Only a couple of the monologues touch even indirectly on current events.  In “Cold Feet” by Emily Zemba, Santino Fontana calls his fiancé, who since the pandemic, has been staying with her parents – not his favorite people – and he’s wondering whether she’s calling off the wedding. In “A Weird Sport” by Halley Feiffer, Amber Tamblyn confronts her husband, who “stood by and watched a man you work with strangle and then shoot another man for absolutely no reason,” and dissects his racist and sexist attitudes. Their children are taking fencing lessons, which her mother calls a weird sport, but we get the sense that the title is referring to something other than just a game.

In “Meat and Other Broken Promises,” by Migdalia Cruz, Marquise Vilsón portrays a man talking to a photograph of his father, and  his reminiscences are embedded with a lifetime of struggle.  “They can’t kill us all. This world is like a photo framed in sea glass, shattered against rocks, by an ocean pushing us down, but I’m coming up for air now, Pop. Imagine that.”

There will be a fifth edition of Homebound Project, which the organizers say will be the last, scheduled to debut on August 5.

 

List of plays for Homebound Project # 4:

 

Emily
Written by  Erin Courtney
Featuring​ Cherry Jones
Directed by Jenna Worsham

 

Cold Feet
Written by Emily Zemba
Featuring Santino Fontana

 

The Rat
Written by Leslye Headland
in collaboration with Claire Rothrock
Featuring Sue Jean Kim
Directed by Annie Tippe

 

The Window
Written by Boo Killebrew
Featuring​ Mary Wiseman
Directed by Jenna Worsham

 

Meat & Other Broken Promises
Written by Migdalia Cruz
Featuring​ Marquise Vilsón
Directed by Cándido Tirado

A Weird Sport
Written by Halley Feiffer
Featuring Amber Tamblyn

 

Assets
by Diana Oh
Featuring Tommy Dorfman
Directed by Lena Dunham

 

Promise
Written by Charly Evon Simpson
Featuring​ Adam Faison

 

Really, Sarah?
Written by Janine Nabers
Featuring​ Lisa Edelstein

 

All the Old Familiar Places
Written by Jon Robin Baitz
Featuring Judith Light
Directed by Leigh Silverman

“Voice” performed by Thomas Sadoski
Music Arrangement by Rick Baitz

 

as soon as the phone rang,i knew
by Harrison David Rivers
Featuring Jon-Michael Reese
Directed by Colette Robert

 

Special Guests​

Teaira ‘T-Bone’ Johnson, Diana Oh, Phillipa Soo &

Amanda Seyfried

Directed and Produced by

Jon Burklund & Jenna Worsham

 

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Author: New York Theater

Jonathan Mandell is a 3rd generation NYC journalist, who sees shows, reads plays, writes reviews and sometimes talks with people.

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