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RATTLESTICK PLAYWRIGHTS THEATER'S NEW YORK premiere of Adam Rapp's The Hallway Trilogy--three plays set 50 years apart, currently running through March 20--boils down to this: They're about overwhelming, unrequited love, and the action goes down in the hallway of an apartment building in the Lower East Side.

As a marathon experience, the trilogy shares a few recurring characters, but the narratives need not be taken in chronologically. Part 1, Rose, directed by the playwright, takes place the evening after the death of Eugene O'Neill in 1953 and trafficks in madness and obsession. "It follows the story of an actress who has been institutionalized," Rapp says. "She received electroshock therapy during a time when people did not understand the ramifications of that technology. I was interested in exploring what it meant to be married at the time, what the limitations were for men and women, what the gender wars were all about then."

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Part 2, Paraffin, staged by Daniel Aukin, is set on the first evening of the 2003 New York City blackout. "I tried to construct a Cain and Abel story," specifies Rapp. "A Gulf War veteran is in love with his brother's wife and lives across the hall from her. The thing that was so fascinating for me about the blackout of 2003 was that as the night got darker, there was a sort of cultural permission in New York for everyone to have sex with strangers and to cheat on their wives and husbands. A bacchanalian thing happened--suddenly there was this strange, savage feeling." Part 3, Nursing, directed by Trip Cullman, has a sci-fi flavor--the play takes place in 2053 in a disease-free New York City. The tenement is transformed into a museum. The hallway now resembles a cage or an aquarium, with a Plexiglass wall separating the audience from the actors; we're protected from being exposed to cash-strapped young people injected with diseases for the public's amusement. The playwright explains: "I was thinking that if disease were successfully eradicated from our culture, what would happen to our sense of empathy? Could we still appreciate joy if the possibility of suffering is lessened?"

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Title Annotation:NEW YORK CITY; 'The Hallway' Trilogy by Adam Rapp
Author:Gener, Randy
Publication:American Theatre
Geographic Code:1U2NY
Date:Mar 1, 2011
Words:357
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