How to Get Into Buildings: Theater review by Helen Shaw
Some plays are soufflés—tricky to execute, quickly evaporating, delicately sweet. Trish Harnetiaux's How to Get Into Buildings is a particularly airy example, a treat for fans of the avant-garde version of boulevard entertainment. In Katherine Brook's confident production now at the Brick, much depends on the cast's immense charm; it's an ensemble made up entirely of the downtown goofballs who usually steal the show, and here they're all trying to snaffle the night from each other.
The story's a scramble: an author (Jess Barbagallo) reads from his book The Car Accident; a couple (Mike Iveson and Stephanie Weeks) argue at a restaurant; a shy conference attendee (Kristine Haruna Lee) talks to a duplicitous phone psychic (Tina Shepard) and flirts with a zany motivational speaker (Jacob A. Ware, delivering the titular talk). Is the couple the flirters' future selves? Are they all just characters in the constantly changing book? Despite the rampant silliness, Harnetiaux does some quite sophisticated structural work here, slipstreaming her events in space (Lee wiggles out of an embrace, someone else takes her place) and a constantly somersaulting timeline. But even as we're wondering which of the nesting-doll narratives is the “real one,” we realize we don't really care. It would be like worrying about what went into the holiday punch—all that matters is the fizz.—Helen Shaw
The Brick (Off-Off Broadway). By Trish Harnetiaux. Directed by Katherine Brook. With ensemble cast. Running time: 1hr 25mins. No intermission.