No Strings Attached – Caterer, Escort, Porn Star

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NY Theater Review by Joe Regan Jr.

 

 

 

“No Strings Attached,” a very contemporary three character play by Manuel Igrejas, is being presented at the Stage Left Studio. Igrejas, whose previous play “Margarita and Max” won Best Short Play, Best Director and Best Actress Awards at the 2013 Midtown International Theatre Festival. Although the one act play runs only about 90 minutes, it is a fully developed play about a gay couple and the caterer, escort, porn star who comes between them.

Casey Burden plays Monty, a successful advertising copywriter for Styrofoam products who is in a thirteen year relationship with the younger, taller and recently downsized into unemployment Luis, played by Afrim Gjonbalaj. More than anything, Monty wants to legally marry Luis but Luis is resisting that commitment. At an art exhibit, they both recognize the caterer/waiter Stefan (Kevin Perez) who denies ever meeting them before. It develops that Stefan is from Croatia, or Yugoslavia or Bratislava and, if you can believe him, was abused by male members of his family as a child or a man who picked him up on the street and raped him, and is not only an escort but also a porn star. Monty realizes that he has seen Stefan’s porn on a website and it later is revealed that Luis has been one of his clients in dominant/submissive scenes. Both men in the couple begin exploring more face to face encounters with Stefan, who tells tales of his past that seem to be manufactured from movies like “Oliver Twist.” Monty even hires him to cater one of his company events.

Through a series of hot, short scenes, punctuated by blackouts and special music references, the various encounters accumulate into astonishing endings in which each character has actually grown to new maturity through the participation with each other. The actors are skillfully directed by Robert Teague, and the flawless lighting and sound are by Ellen Rosenberg.

It is very rare to see such an accomplished production in the New York Fringe arena.

“No Strings Attached” runs through August 16 at the Stage Left Studio, 214 West 30 Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues. Performances are Wednesday through Saturday at 7:30 PM. For further information call 212-838-2134 or StageLeftStudio.net

 

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