Gaby Moreno surprised me in this set. Her first song “No Regrets,” begins like a gentle bossa nova sung in Spanish. The song switches to English about midway through, but it retains that lovely bossa nova feel. Morena’s voice is lovely and clear. She plays guitar and sings and is accompanied by Adam Levy, also on guitar.
So far, so good.
The second song, “Ave Que Emigra” begins as a gentle ballad, but quickly morphs into a kind of upbeat folk song also sung in Spanish (Moreno is from Guatemala). It is a lovely song with some beautiful oooohs.
It’s the third song the surprised me.
“Sing Me Life” opens in a much darker vein–rough strummed guitars and a blues solo from Levy. Even Moreno’s voice has gotten deeper and bluesier. The song is sung in English and although she sounds like herself, she also sounds really different–not exactly angrier, but less sweet, more intense. The “Hey hey hey’s” are a far cry from the sweet “ooooohs” of the previous song. Levy plays a nice bluesy solo on this song as well.
Moreno has a great deal of diversity in her set and she handles it all really well.
[READ: October 20, 2015] The Spoils
I have enjoyed Eisenberg’s writing in the past. But this was the first full play I had read by him (he has two others). It is very funny (and surprisingly vulgar).
There are five characters. Ben (played by Eisenberg when it was performed) owns the apartment where the action is set. He is the son of a wealthy man, going to college for “film” and basically enjoying himself as much as he can. He drinks, he smokes pot and he picks on his roommate (who might just be his only friend). His language is shockingly vulgar, dropping curses left and right.
His roommate is Kalyan (who in the performance was played by Kunal Nayyar (from The Big Bang Theory). Kalyan is from Nepal. He has come to NYU to study business and has even written book about economic conditions in Nepal. Kalyan is a bit dorky (he loves PowerPoint, which is used to great comic effect throughout the story). And he is trying to win over Reshma.
Reshma is Indian, but she has lived in the States all of her life, so she is really American. She has high hopes for Kalyan, but it seems she fears he might not live up to his potential.
In the opening scene Kalyan is showing her a PowerPoint and being incredibly sweet to her. When Ben walks in he is all crass and vulgar—funny but very unlikable. He essentially makes Reshma leave (although as soon as he shows up we know she wants to leave anyhow) and then begins his tale.
While walking across the street today he ran into Ted, an old friend and successful businessman. He reveals that he is going to be marrying Sarah, a girl that they both grew up with. And Ben is crushed. Although he never actually dated Sarah he has fantasized about her since he was little.
When Ben tells Kaylan that Ted works at a firm that Kaylan would love to work at, Ben sets up a meeting, so that Ted and Sarah and Kaylan and Reshma can have dinner together (Ben says it won’t be at all uncomfortable). Ben pushes everyone’s buttons. He basically acts like a total dick and yet his bad vibes seem to bring everyone together more, so that Ted agrees to bring Kaylan’s book to his boss and to set up an interview.
Ben has been sort of hitting on Sarah in a very clumsy way, although no one really seems to notice or say anything. When she reveals that she likes art films, Ben more or less promises to show her a film that he has made (which he has not yet actually shot).
In the following scene, the five are together again and Kaylan is showing of a PowerPoint presentation. They are going to eat Nepalese food. But by the end of the night, Ben has drunk too much and smoked too much and the other four go out and leave him to himself.
In Act II, the four are together, drunk and happy. They are making a series of jokes about “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” which are very funny indeed.
Later Ben shows Sarah his “film” which reveals just how little work he has actually done. And that’s when he confesses to her how he feels.
As the story progresses things get bleaker for both of our protagonists and Ben reveals a pretty ugly side of himself. The question, of course, is how will everyone react to Ben.
I really enjoyed this story a lot. I imagine it was very cathartic for Eisenberg to act like such a jerk. And the comedy is really good. The Nepalese toast is hilarious and even Ben’s insults are funny. It is surprising just how dark Eisenberg went with some of the language and the fantasies—dark enough that many people may be turned off. But I think it rings true. And I’d liked to have seen it live.