“Rule of 7×7″ is one of a unique theatre experiences you can have in New York City at The Tank, a non-profit home for the arts. Showing only every other month, all for a price under $15.00, with a free drink with the purchase of your ticket, it is something you will not want to miss.
Created and produced by Brett Epstein, Rule of 7×7 are seven plays, written by seven playwrights, adhering to seven rules, with each rule created by each of the seven playwrights, with a special fan favorite bonus rule. The inclusion of each rule adds a creative flare a to an already funny piece of ensembles.
The seven and one bonus rule are one, the last line of the play must be identical to the first line. Second, Diane, third, Jamboree. Fourth, during one line of dialogue, a single word must be repeated seven times. Fifth, somewhere in the dialogue there must be a line that reads either “Her breasts felt like ___” or “his penis looked like___.” Sixth, pills are to be taken at some point, and seven, The Hamptons. The bonus rule, One character must attempt to tell a joke, but not be allowed to get to the punchline. Each writer had free reign to do whatever they wanted with the rules as long as they made sense and were entertaining.
Following the eight rules, add an all too funny cast, and witty writing, it’s an electrifying comedic experience.
The first play gets the night off to a good start. Simply titled “Lower.” A young woman trying to start her own workout studio, with her own interesting techniques, back home after failing to find fulfillment in the Big Apple. Only she really wants to be in neither of these places. Written by Stephanie Swirsky and directed by Sarah Krahn the play is almost reminiscent of something you would find in a Kristen Wiig skit or movie, with a little less of the antics and more of a plot, though there are plenty of funny stage antics going on. Everything about this play is funny, even the dramatic essence, with their witty one-liners and brilliant comedic character portrayal by Katherine Fold-Sullivan (Dana) and Kaley Ronayne (Ashley).
The next play on the lineup is “Privacy,” written by Matt Barbot and directed by Sanaz Ghajar. Privacy is definitely more of a situational comedy piece, for the sitcom fans. The entire play is focused around an incident between roommates Tim (Vincent Santvoord), and Jamie (Leta-Renee Alan) and as Jamie puts it, “makes them really roommates now.” With a lot of heavy expressed emotion that sometimes goes a bit overboard in trying to get the level of embarrassment on both sides across, it’s one of the less funny plays of the ensemble, but it’s still made for an entertaining watch.
The third play, “The Madness of Captain Dread,” is the crazier and out their play out of them all which garnered a lot of laughs throughout its entirety. Written and directed by Matt Cox, it can only be described as a cross between The Pirates of the Caribbean (which they made clear by hilariously pointing out their use of music from Pirates of the Caribbean), The Little Mermaid, and something Keenen Ivory Wayans might have put in one of his “Scary Movie” sequels. With A.J. Ditty as Captain Dread, Matt Cox as Hampton, Zac Moon as Stubby Pete and Andy Miller as the murder tempting mermaid, it’s use of kooky characters and interesting plot made for one heck of a play.
“Black People are Dangerous” was able to keep the momentum going and then some with the use of Jessie Cannizzaro’s funny use of her voice (Carla) and hilarious racial commentary by Donaldo Prescod (Earl). Written by Donaldo Prescod and directed by Kristin McCarthy Parker, Carla and Earl’s fumbling attempts to get the elephant in the room, or car, provide for an entertaining racially charged discussion over which race, black or white, “be wildin’” when it comes to serial murderer. With the introduction of another character Rosie, played by Oliva Stoker, one assumption after the other makes its even funnier for everyone, black or white. And like Carla says, “we’ll end this racism thing.”
“Jamboree Jackson Joins the Circus,” written by Jordan Swisher and directed by Courtney Ulrich starts the audience back up again after intermission with the return of Matt Cox as Cornelius, Oliva Stoker as Cynthia Pepper. The star of this play is Jamboree Jackson played Madeleine Bundy as the entertainingly fast talking joke teller looking for a job in the circus. Matt Cox steals the show though with his hilarious and borderline mental patient act as Cornelius, circus ringleader, hitting on Cynthia and having a half put together an outfit. His adult cartoon attitude, Jamboree’s fast talking skills, and Cynthia’s misguided and desperate motherly intent make for very interesting characters and really brings it home.
“Hard Times for Real Hamptonites” has it’s moments but doesn’t quite carry the torch of hilarity in the previous plays, but the amusing stage presence and character conflict provide for a few laughs. Written by Dan McCabe and directed by Brad Anderson, actors Erik Olson (Stephen), Alex Haynes, (Craig) and Brett Aresco (Brad) are deeply committed to the roles, and it shows through their almost exaggerated character facade of what it means to be a native Hamptonite and how displeasing New Yorkers can be when they visit.
“Now and Then: The Male Version,” written by Brett Epstein and directed by Josh Boerman, is a bit more than a vague cross of American Reunion and Now and Then. Yet full of laughter, witty remarks, and delightful character backstories, this final play in the lineup tops of the evening with a night of drinking at Juniors and character revelations. Starring Brett Epstein as Sam who is a successful writer and has a bit more social disorders than most, Zac Moon as Chris who stayed in their hometown and a soon to be father, Alex Mandell as Mitchell who is a struggling actor, and Greg Engbrecht as Robert who is a hilariously exaggerated version of American Pie’s Stifler. You couldn’t get a more diverse group of friends.
With each rule added in the plays, there is no shortage of entertainment in each play and it’s sure to make a lasting impression.