The Pied Pipers of the Lower East Side
The Amoralists take a long, hard look at neohippie idealism.
Thu Jun 18 2009
BRIEF INTERLUDE Pilieci, Moore and Kautz, from left, work out their issues;...
Time Out Ratings :<strong>Rating: </strong>4/5
As you might expect from a theater troupe that calls itself the Amoralists, The Pied Pipers of the Lower East Side has elements of willful provocation. Not for nothing does the play’s flyer warn of “Explicit Sexual Content and Utopian Ideals”: Both are central to the four characters in the bisexual and polyamorous commune at the core of the story. But although the play does contain a lot of radical talk, and one quite extravagant nude scene, its dramaturgy is boldly old-fashioned—which may be the most shocking thing about it.
Writer-director Derek Ahonen sets his action in a classic formal structure: a three-act play with two intermissions, unfolding on a single set over a period of a few days. The animalistic, necrophobic Wyatt (Matthew Pilieci) and the analytical, law-trained Dear (a catlike Sarah Lemp) run a vegan restaurant in exchange for room and board upstairs; their mnage quatre also includes the passionate, drug-addled Billy (James Kautz) and the wide-eyed young Dawn (Mandy Nicole Moore). The group’s happy setup is imperiled by the intrusion of two outsiders: Billy’s brother, Evan (Nick Lawson), a foul-mouthed frat boy; and Donovan (Malcolm Madera), the old-money philanthropist who owns their loft. Ahonen has written full, complex characters, and the committed cast approaches them with sincerity and heart. This is exciting work, fresh and refreshing: The Pied Pipers of the Lower East Side makes you want to follow the Amoralists wherever they go next.—Adam Feldman