After a hit run at The Bushwick Starr, Kate Benson's surreal play about the patrons of a local bar in a gentrifying neighborhood transfers to the WP Theater. More…
A woman walks into a bar. Her name is Porto. She’s a regular. She likes this bar: serious food, serious wine, serious bartender–a staple in a gentrifying Brooklyn neighborhood. Her friends, her wine, and her artisanal snacks are there; her doubts about being a modern woman are put on snooze. A handsome stranger walks in and orders something special. Disruption ensues: an upside-down romantic comedy unfolds inside and outside her head. Desires of all kinds are awakened with a ferocious thump. A nice smile is a nice smile, but can we enjoy the sausage once we know how it’s made?
"In the very funny, very smart '[Porto],' Kate Benson has a lot to say...Splendidly directed by Lee Sunday Evans to not only coax out the humor but also the humanity of the characters...These actors fully inhabit their roles, yet the audience has the luxury of filling in the details...Sirna-Frest plays Porto in an exquisite match of character and performer...Approachable, offbeat, clever, smart, thoughtful, and hilarious, '[Porto]' is just about perfect theater." Full Review
"A strictly realistic presentation of this story might look like a poor onstage imitation of HBO's 'Girls', but Benson delivers something uniquely theatrical with a script that is magical, mischievous, and just plain hilarious...Evans maintains Benson's intoxicating cocktail of magical realism and timely satire with a pitch-perfect production...With humor and honesty, '[PORTO]' dramatizes the late capitalist paradox of having a million avenues for pleasure, but still feeling a gnawing dissati... Full Review
"An incisively clever, extremely funny, and imaginatively surreal rom-com by the Obie Award-winning team of Benson and Evans...Benson creatively interweaves the angst of the Millennial generation with observations on our socio-political climate...The terrific cast, under Evans' expertly-tempered direction, offers hilarious yet believable performances that lampoon the all-too-familiar figures...A razor-sharp show." Full Review
"Brilliant...A 90 minute play that is funny, bright, and so raw it becomes wise. You cannot fight the truths Benson has written, from reality unto the stage...Frest’s portrayal of Porto is intelligent and nuanced...The narrator, Benson, whom is unbelievably smart and sultry...Though unseen, her voice is so commanding...Every character in Porto is relatable or, at the very least, someone you know." Full Review
"'[PORTO]' sneaks up on you...It's a smart, surprising ode to the modern woman's anxious, circuitous quest for simultaneous self-actualization, pleasure, and perhaps even love...The minute that Benson took clear aim at the vexed territory of feminism, sex, desire, shame, what we want from our partners, and what we feel we should do for them...I could feel her punches right in the chest...Evans gets smart, pointed, playful performances out of her entire cast." Full Review
"Following the structure of a romantic comedy, Kate Benson delivers a typical narrative with jaded characters in this dry, self-aware play. Director Lee Sunday Evans takes care with the ironic tone by telling the story with unique pictures...Benson brilliantly crafts this theme into a story about a woman who desires romance, but who has also come to terms with being alone. There are several poignant moments...Entertaining and engaging on social, emotional, and intellectual levels." Full Review
"The play reunites Benson with her fellow Obie Award winner, director Evans, whose steady imaginative hand draws sharp, lively performances from the excellent cast...The play itself is a feminist act exploring the stereotypes, pressures of accepted behavior and principles that make finding love ever more difficult...'[PORTO]' argues with wit and charm the importance of breaking free of societal confines, accepting who you are and opening yourself up to the possibilities of life." Full Review
"More a lab experiment than a stage play...The entire night walks a fine line between pretentious and high satire...Benson's writing is most accessible when she's making fun of millennials and their penchant for 'serious' bars and anything pickled...As directed by Evans, the cast all inhabit their characters earnestly. Chukwu stands out for creating a sympathetic Raphael, while the others, in a work that is funny-strange instead of funny-ha-ha, tug more on the brain than on the heart." Full Review
"A rom-com for millennials to love. And judging by the knowing laughter from the 20 and 30-somethings in the audience at the performance I attended, she's hit her intended mark...There's a tongue-in-check quality to most of the characters...The one exception to these one-note characters is Porto...Sirna-Frest makes her the anchor of this one. And she gives Porto (and [porto]) such sincere vulnerability that you almost don't need to be a millennial to appreciate it." Full Review
"Whenever Benson stops talking, her play threatens to be a funny and touching romantic comedy tinged with the anxieties of early middle age. Too much of the time, however, we are forced to cope with the playwright's voice -- insistent, intrusive, and intent on stealing focus from the characters she has created...The result is death by extreme editorializing...The biggest problem with '[PORTO]' is that, shorn of all its tricks and traps, its observations aren't terribly original." Full Review
“A comic cocktail with a bitter twist of feminism...A kick more closely resembling a Shirley Temple than a Long Island Iced Tea…In its indirect way, the play is as critical of our overindulgent eating and other habits as it is about anything else…So much time is consumed by Bracket's verbiage, much of it with…the lights off, you begin to look forward to such moments to catch some z's…I must dutifully report that the play elicited a fair share of laughs…; my own humor meter barely moved.” Full Review
“Kate Benson's ‘[Porto]’ (the title refers to the voice in the heroine's head) will please die-hard feminists most who will be glad to hear the play's messages spoken from the stage. However, many of the rest of us will be forgiven if thinking the play trades in platitudes and is overly derivative. We have met all these people - and their problems - before. The play's gimmicks may either strike you as novel and fresh or as tired and trite.” Full Review
for a previous production "A thoughtful and often surrealistic meditation on the contradictions and hypocrisies of contemporary urban life…Benson and her director Lee Sunday Evans gently and not so gently lampoon the milieu in which the play lives…The play is universally well acted…Issues frustrated me, but it’s a testament to Benson and Evans’ engrossing work that I felt so invested with getting to the bottom of my own feelings about what they had presented...This is a compelling work that deserves to be pondered." Full Review
for a previous production "Stealthily ferocious, comfortingly hopeful, very funny new play...A delicate mechanism, it hasn’t fully found its rhythm off the page, despite a largely excellent cast led by the wonderful Ms. Sirna-Frest...There is plenty of longing to go around in '[Porto]'...The path to pleasure in sausage, as in life, can be brutal, messy and seriously disgusting. A little precious, too. Yet the play is ultimately an exhortation to get out of your head and live, in thoughtful pursuit of joy." Full Review
for a previous production "A feel-weird comedy...While the cast is lovable, Benson's project is to use these endearing elements for a dark end. Essentially, '[PORTO]' undermines self-gratification itself. In the script, the word underbelly keeps emerging in different contexts, and the word's ugly, sagging quality lurks everywhere. The play, while presenting as an adorable comedy, forces us to feel revulsion at our basic pleasures, whether that's bacon or sex or company. It's a good piece, but beware—it's also effective." Full Review
for a previous production "Kate Benson's sweet, thoughtful new play...The poetic, slightly surreal drama meditates on habit and indulgence and the social and economic structures shaping our private lives…Evans's intimate production serves the play's delicacy…The ensemble cast...delivers warm, sympathetic portraits of figures that, to a Brooklyn audience, are familiar: evoking our own daily lives, with our own unexamined habits and pleasures, awaiting us after the lights go down." Full Review
See it if This show has a "voice," literally. It has something to say. The production couldn't be better.
Don't see it if The show may appeal most now to port-drinking Brooklyn millenials. It's of its time and place, but I believe it'll age well.
See it if if you love a feminist, Brooklyn rom-come that doesn't insult your intelligence. Benson had made a clever play that marches to its own beat.
Don't see it if If you don't like romance and laughter.
See it if you'd enjoy a wry take on how hip, straight, not-so-young anymore Brooklynites meet, sniff each other out &, when the planets align, mate.
Don't see it if you want a piece that transcends the local & the everyday, or have an aversion to mild challenges to traditional dramatic form.
See it if you enjoy format-busting plays full of ideas. You like being consistently surprised and delighted.
Don't see it if you don't consider the issues facing young urban women to be worth exploring
See it if If you want to see the stereotypes so prevalent in dramas set in bars updating for current times, and an example of how feminism failed.
Don't see it if you don't like plays centered around a bar, or if you are tired of plays about women and their plight in modern times.
See it if youu like some good acting, a great set, a theater that you be "there"and some interesting ideas to ponder.
Don't see it if if you cannot handle a double set of stairs after the elevator .... altough, if you indicate a problem, there is an entrance on level 3
See it if Slightly meta update of a girl & a guy in a bar with plenty of literary references & affectionate mocking of Brooklyn hipsters. Great set...
Don't see it if smart writing, comfortable actors. Maybe not for those who love a big play or musical, but off-Broadway excellence.
See it if you often find your inner monologue to be your worst enemy. You think Brooklyn hipsters are both funny and annoyingly precious.
Don't see it if you don't like plays with no intermission. You're an easily offended Brooklyn hipster millennial.
See it if The perspective of millennials is of interest; you appreciate a unique theatrical presentation; you value a beautiful and unique stage set
Don't see it if You would not respond to a more intellectualized approach to an emotional subject; you want something conventional
See it if you enjoyed Lena Dunham's GIRLS or other plays/movies/TV shows about single professionals in Brooklyn.
Don't see it if you're hoping for new insight or an intense theatrical experience.
See it if Usual 'single, intelligent woman in urban jungle' tale gets a funny, hipster spin Comic situations with a dark ironic twist in boho Brooklyn
Don't see it if Omnipresent vocal consciousness (the author) may not appeal to some; dark tone at times harsh but lovely Sirna-Frest gets us over bumps
See it if You want to see a play with a unique structure and storytelling format. Feminist themes. Jokes about Brooklyn. Nice set!
Don't see it if if you want a coherent play. I enjoyed the first half of the play much more than the second half.
See it if Enjoy absurdist interludes (by far best parts) with your hipster self-mocking. Like shows about real-world, "average" protagonists
Don't see it if Looking for representational show presented straight, with characters that inspire more emotion than sardonic recognition
See it if you like Benson's quirky voice (literally: she speaks the voiceovers that direct and describe the action); you appreciate light surrealism
Don't see it if you find Boho Brooklyn and its habitués annoying; you find whimsicality wearing
See it if You're interested in heterosexual dynamics and the different alliances young women have to older waves of feminism.
Don't see it if You're annoyed by outdated hipster stereotypes onstage, noncommittal acting, or men playing Gloria Steinem and Simone de Beauvoir.
See it if you want to see a great set, good actors, enjoy a few interesting and thought provoking moments but more of a meditation not dramatic
Don't see it if you hate narrators controlling the action or lack of action. Way too much narration with actors standing there looking out.
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