In Medias Res and Studio 42





Translated by Charlotte Barslund and Kim Dambæk


April 21 – May 8, 2004, The Peter Jay Sharp Theater at Playwrights Horizons


Directed by ISAAC BUTLER

Scenic Design TAKESHI KATA

Lighting Design SHELLY SABEL

Costume Design KAY LEE





Axel – Geoffrey Arend

Viktor – Rob Grace

Pis – Hanna Cheek

Tearman – Bradford Louryk

Bimsy – Alexa Scott-Flaherty

Lis – Phoebe Ventouras

Who do we meet in the strange universe of Danish playwright Line Knutzon’s eccentric FIRST YOU’RE BORN? Well, there are two sisters named Lis, but one calls herself Pis. There’s the neighbor plagued by migraines who falls down in doorways. There’s a couple in love, but out of love too, who part ways after only 365 days. There are roommates seeking dates, or busy baking teacakes, and also caught up in a general malaise. There are people wielding knives out of jealousy or pride. There are unpacked bags and disabled tables. There is strangeness, yet plainness. Most of all, there are essentially simple souls, coming together, strangely at first, but in the end it all makes sense.

Framed by the whimsical set designed by Takeshi Kata and the fun costumes created by Kay Lee, this production of Knutzon’s FIRST YOU’RE BORN has the details down pat. Isaac Butler directs his actors into a state of innocent ambiguity befitting the natures of the isolated and odd characters they are meant to portray. Love and sex are amid the crazy haze, as is friendship, travel and what it means to be neighbors. It is a curious little world, but the denizens within it relate to one another well. The question then becomes, does the audience, in turn, relate to them, these in-my-own-head inhabitants? That answer is less forthcoming, for this play, whilst plying universals, is less than successful in inviting global approval.

When undecided, I usually do not recommend going with a glass is half full philosophy when ticket money is a consideration. Here I am going to break with that rule, as I find an abundance of good stuff in play in this production of the play called FIRST YOU’RE BORN. Yes, if you read me, you know I have a special spot for Studio 42 and their work. But, yes, their latest work, co-presented by In Medias Res, represents the best of their better parts and suggests, enthusiastically, the artistic heart of their greater intentions. So, take a chance that you will embrace the kookiness.

- Kessa De Santis -

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