New York theater is glamour, right? The footlights, the dreams, the Great White Way. Oh the things you’ll see: wicked witches, musical Mormons, swaying Swedes, airborne arachnids and anthropomorphic lions for starters. There’s even a straight play now and then like The Glass Menagerie to remind people of all Broadway once was. Not just Sondheim and Richard Rodgers but Eugene O’Neill, David Mamet and Edward Albee. Yes, Broadway used to be a place like New York itself, full of fantastic sparkle but hard and real, where an entertaining night out might suddenly turn emotionally savage and make you see the world anew. Well, New York theater is still like that, but it’s mainly to be found in the offs and the off-off Broadway houses. One of these is a two-year-old bootstrap ensemble called Up Theater Company, the up coming from uptown, way uptown where Manhattan ends. Or, if you prefer, where it begins.
The company has no permanent home, but commandeers performance space in this northern enclave as befits is current show. Sometimes a chapel, sometimes a diner. Now showing (and running through November 23) is ASHÉ by Ricardo Pérez-González, directed by David Mendizábal. The show has been selected as part of Latin American Culture Week in NYC, and designated a Hot Ticket of the week by BrownPaperTickets.com. ASHÉ is the sixth production by this wily group of fringe theater veterans–who’ve all seen both the bright lights of the big time and the hard times that attend the creative life. This is theater that’s got nothing to do with Spiderman, but everything to do with living. Broadway is a very long avenue, by the way–it goes clear up to the tip of the island. Attention, as one famous character from olden times once said, must be paid.