The Muscles in Our Toes OFF-BROADWAY REVIEWS

Photo: Ruby Washington
  • The Muscles In Our Toes
  • NY TIMES

  • DAILY NEWS

  • TM

  • CURTAIN UP

Opening Night:
June 14, 2014
Closing:
July 19, 2014

Theater: Bank Street Theatre / 155 Bank Street, NEW YORK, NY, 10014

Synopsis: 

In this dark comedy, four friends meet at their high school reunion, and ponder a plan to free their old friend who’s been kidnapped by a radical political group. Absurdity, intensity and plain ole weirdness ensue when this inebriated, stoned, adolescently arrested, religiously confused group of friends attempts to tackle the task at hand and, at the same time, debate the forces of international terrorism.

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  • NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW OF The Muscles in Our Toes

    25th Reunion Takes a Turn for the Explosive
    The Muscles in Our Toes Follows Friends on a Mission

    Charles Isherwood

    June 27, 2014: At most 25th high school reunions, the drama does not rise above the discovery that the prom queen got fat, or the mousy kid who disappeared into the scenery founded an Internet company valued at a few billion dollars. There’s much more in store for the friends reassembling to recall semi-halcyon days in The Muscles in Our Toes, a fairly preposterous play by Stephen Belber (Tape, Match) making its New York premiere in a Labyrinth Theater Company production directed by Anne Kauffman. Mr. Belber’s drama, which opened on Thursday night at the Bank Street Theater, is set in the choir room of a high school, where the central characters have convened to have a more intimate discussion, away from the chatty, badge-wearing hordes in attendance at the reunion. The urgent topic: the kidnapping in Chad of their friend Jim, who was on a business trip (he manufactures sneakers) when he was abducted by a radical terrorist group. As they circle one another somewhat warily, sizing up who has changed and how, trading talk about wives and kids and recalling the occasional old grievance, the four friends air their frustration at the government’s inaction and try to figure out what they can do to help free their old buddy.

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  • NEW YORK DAILY NEWS REVIEW OF The Muscles in Our Toes

    The Muscles In Our Toes, theater review

    Joe Dziemianowicz

    June 27, 2014: Friendships forged in high school can be enduring — and so can wounds inflicted there. Playwright Stephen Belber tackles that idea in his spiky and surprising comedy The Muscles in Our Toes. Twenty-five years after graduation, a motley group of friends — Les (Bill Dawes), Reg (Amir Arison), Phil (Matthew Maher) and Dante (Mather Zickel) — are back in the school music room, where they used to harmonize as well as clash. While classmates party downstairs, they hatch an explosive plan to rescue another pal, Jim (Samuel Ray Gates), who’s reportedly been kidnapped by radicals. Jim is a sneaker mogul, which recalls The Big Chill, another reunion tale with colorful characters. But Belber (Match, Dusk Rings a Bell) and director Anne Kauffman chase a more absurd, and sometimes much darker, humor in this funny and tense Labyrinth Theater Company production.

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  • THEATERMANIA REVIEW OF The Muscles in Our Toes

    The Muscles in Our Toes Review

    David Gordon

    June 27, 2014: A high school reunion is the perfect place to set a play about growing up, and that's just what dramatist Stephen Belber has done in his latest, The Muscles in Our Toes. This scathing comedy finds a group of friends returning to their old haunt and opening old wounds. But in Anne Kauffman's production for Labyrinth Theater Company, Belber's play is anything but typical. Director Kauffman and scenic designer Lee Savage use the angular layout of the Bank Street Theatre to their advantage as they create an extremely realistic rendering of a public school's choir room. Musical notes line the walls; a piano and drum set sit forlornly in the corners. Rows of multicolored metal chairs sit on risers. And five people who have never grown up take their old seats, giving us a front row to their drunken mayhem and rehashing of arguments that first took place two decades ago.

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  • CURTAIN UP REVIEW OF The Muscles in Our Toes

    A CurtainUp Review The Muscles In Our Toes

    Jacob Horn

    June 27, 2014: At his twenty-five-year high school reunion Les (Bill Dawes), a fight choreographer for theater and film, sits alone at the piano in the music room, playing somber songs in tribute to his friend Jim (Samuel Ray Gates), a sneaker magnate who he believes has been kidnapped by a radical Chadian terrorist group. Slowly, he's joined by the rest of his old crew: Reg (Amir Arison), a civil servant of Persian descent; Dante (Mather Zickel), recently separated from his wife and newly converted to Judaism; and Dante's younger brother Phil (Matthew Maher), a self-described "complex gay man" who decided to tag along to his brother's reunion because he's such a people person. As the group reconverges tensions old and new rise to the surface. Even twenty years hasn't been long enough for Dante to get over the betrayal of Reg's affair with his high school flame Carrie (Jeanine Serralles). Carrie, meanwhile, is still looking for attention from whoever will give it to her. Phil seems perpetually frustrated with his outsider status—whether as a gay man or simply as the younger kid who was never a full-fledged member of the group. Disputes about politics and religion arise every now and then, too, but ideologies merely mask the underlying issues: disappointments from high school and from the life that has come after.

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