Emily Climbs (Machine Méchant): Theater review by Helen Shaw
Julia May Jonas's eerie comedy-with-music Emily Climbs peers into our future—when, she posits, we'll cheat death by being “rejuvenated” and (sometimes accidentally) multiplied. Silliness and seriousness, in this joyful pageant, also proliferate in strange ways.
Born in 2005, failed stand-up comic and devoted political assistant Emily Climbs evolves from singleton to triple-self, and we meet her (them?) in a seven-episode passion play. After her rebirth, Emily becomes a kind of uncanny-valley Andrews Sisters, played here by the unstoppable trio of Caitlin McDonough-Thayer, Hannah Heller and Kate Schroeder. On their hilarious evidence, who would choose singledom over this sly, three-bodied thing?
Jonas teases us with a tasting-menu text: Alongside scenes, we encounter documents of Emily's multiplicity, including a tour contract from her "solo" show and a slice of diary. Jonas's absurdist touch has grown increasingly deft, and she and codirector Jess Barbagallo make the show a sparkling cabinet of wonders—but the close-harmonizing triplet is the main attraction. This Emily is naughty and awkward and hard-charging at once; we scarce know where to look. Suffice it to say, all of her deserves three cheers.—Helen Shaw
The Brick (Off-Off Broadway). By Julia May Jonas. Songs by Heather Christian. Codirected by Jonas and Jess Barbagallo. With ensemble cast. Running time: 1hr 20mins. No intermission.