Televisions were placed in all the right spots, while box sets of animated sitcoms the likes of South Park and Family Guy were placed on shelves nearby, just askew enough to catch the eye. Video game and comic book posters depicting everyone from Batman to the Street Fighter gang were plastered on the walls.
They were not quite straight, but they were not quite crooked either.
Just like you used to have in your room back in the day.
In spite of being an Off-off Broadway performance, the set design in Barton Bishopâ€™s â€œUp, Up, Down, Downâ€ is so surreptitiously awesome that when you first walk into the Access Theater on the fourth floor of 380 Broadway, you feel like youâ€™re at someoneâ€™s home and not a theatrical performance. However, as the play goes on, you see how integral the scenery is to the performance.
Eventually, the set design isnâ€™t the only reason why you feel so comfortable.
Combining stellar performances from Allyson Morgan, Ben Williams and Amy Tribbey, with hilarious supporting roles by Carter Gill, Jonathan Oâ€™Brien and Christopher T. VanDijk, â€œUp, Up Down, Down,â€ is easily the best independent production in New York City right now.
A performance that initially appeals to the video game nerd, with a plethora of inside jokes [Morganâ€™s character, Joy often suffers from panic attacks and recites the Konami code of Up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, Start, to calm herself down], is quickly transformed into a piece about life, love, trust and the human condition. Over the course of two hours, there will be plenty of laughs and possibly even some tears, depending on how mushy you are.
Because of this, itâ€™s a play that can be enjoyed by an eclectic range of personalities, all of whom will get something different out of it.
This is mostly due to the duality Morgan provides her character. She can be an insecure, pill-popping loser whoâ€™s crush on her co-worker Ian [Williams] and mommy issues have destroyed any chance she has at happiness one second, only to be transformed into a hardcore gamer with the courage to stand up for her convictions and be bluntly honest to the people she cares about. Seeing her grow as a character is quite possibly the best reason to see this play. As a matter of fact, theyâ€™ll be often times during this performance that in spite of your differences with her, you can see your own life through her eyes.
The same thing goes for Williams, who starts the performance off as a hilarious, but narrow-minded obsessive gamer, before ultimately growing into the man Joyâ€™s character needs to escape her perils and find the happiness they both deserve.
Though the plot is a bit wacky at times, with terrorist plots and gamecubes finding themselves in the same sentences, the dialogue and development of the action has a kind of Kevin Smith-feel to it that makes it weird, but totally believable and so quirky that youâ€™ll hang on the breaths of every character throughout.
As a result, â€œUp, Up Down, Down,â€ manages to do more than immerse you in its world, it makes you think more about yours.