Lift OFF-BROADWAY REVIEWS

Photo: Carol Rosegg
  • NY TIMES

  • TM

  • L&S AMERICA

  • S & C

  • THEATER PIZZAZZ

Opening Night:
October 17, 2014
Closing:
November 30, 2014

Theater: 59E59 Theaters / 59 East 59th St., New York, NY, 10022

Synopsis: 

Two ambitious co-workers meet for the first time when a catastrophic event traps them in a skyscraper elevator. In the darkness, Theodore 'Big Time' Southmore and Tina Pardon form an intimate bond, sharing their deepest fears and darkest secrets, touching on issues of race, culture, and class. This gripping drama by award-winning writer Walter Mosley makes its New York City debut as the third production of the 5A Season. Lift made its world premiere in April 2014 at Crossroads Theatre Company in New Brunswick, NJ.

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  • NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW OF Lift

    They’re Trapped in an Elevator and in Life

    Alexis Soloski

    November 5, 2014: A play calculated to make anyone who sees it take the stairs, Lift, at 59E59 Theaters, is the debut full-length drama from the novelist Walter Mosley. After terrorists attack a skyscraper, two young African-American executives find themselves trapped in an elevator. The intercom won’t function, the doors won’t open, the hatch is locked, cellphones won’t work and, hey, is that the smell of smoke? Mr. Mosley’s addictive crime novels, which include the cherished Easy Rawlins series, rely on reversals of plot and unexpected revelations of character. That works well in a 300-page book, less so in this 100-minute play, presented by Crossroads Theater Company. What begins as an entertaining chiller swerves into a drama of self-revelation and then into an unconvincing romance. Neither Tina Pardon (MaameYaa Boafo), a business analyst, nor Theodore Southmore (Biko Eisen-Martin), known as Big Time, who works in strategic planning, is particularly good in a crisis. Tina risks their lives so as to relieve herself outside the elevator car; Theodore has bouts of moaning and gibbering. “I’m worried,” he says, “that any minute I’m gonna fall a thousand feet and get crushed under a ton of metal.”

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  • THEATERMANIA REVIEW OF Lift

    Two people are trapped in an elevator at 59E59 Theaters with nothing to do but talk

    Pete Hempstead

    October 28, 2014: Walter Mosley, best known for crime fiction novels such as Devil in a Blue Dress, has taken a stab at playwriting with Lift, now making its New York premiere in a Crossroads Theatre Company production at 59E59 Theaters. The play deals with what happens when two aspiring African-American professionals are trapped in an office-building elevator during a terrorist attack. Though the play does have a couple of unexpected revelations that you might expect from a Mosley work, this production, directed by Marshall Jones III, lumbers through two meandering acts before delivering a dramatic yet predictable ending. In a New York office building, Tina Pardon (MaameYaa Boafo) and Theodore Southmore (Biko Eisen-Martin), two African-American go-getters, meet by chance when he interrupts a conversation between Tina and her friend Noni (Shavonna Banks). Tina and Southmore then ride in an elevator with company boss Mr. Resterly (Martin Kushner), who nonchalantly opines his racist views of ethnic groups (and their place in the socioeconomic food chain) before exiting. Alone in the elevator, Tina and Southmore strike up a conversation when suddenly a terrorist attack damages the building and leaves them stranded. After a few desperate attempts to escape from the wobbly elevator, they talk about their diverse backgrounds and dreams, as well as Tina's interracial relationship, until Southmore begins writhing on the floor because of what he calls a "condition." When Tina learns the truth about Southmore, she is forced to do something morally abhorrent to save him while coming to terms with the implications of her own checkered past.

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  • LIGHTING AND SOUND AMERICA REVIEW OF Lift

    Theatre in Review: Lift (59E59)

    David Barbour

    October 29, 2014: Walter Mosley is one of the finest crime novelists writing in America today; if you have never picked up his Easy Rawlins series, I advise you to do so immediately. In fact, the term "crime novelist" is something of a misnomer, because his books stand on their own for their vividly rendered atmosphere and distinctive characters. Let's just call him a great novelist and leave it at that. However, with Lift, Mosley joins the long and distinguished line of prose stylists whose gifts prove less than useful when applied to the theatre. This attempted suspense drama offers a not-uninteresting premise but it shows many hallmarks of the tyro playwright, not least a willingness to talk off the audience's collective ear. Lift takes place almost entirely inside an elevator of a New York law firm. It is occupied by Tina Pardon and Theodore Southmore, employees of the company, both of whom are black. Almost immediately, there is an explosion and the car falls many stories, ending up hanging by a single fraying cable. It quickly becomes apparent that the building has been attacked by terrorist bombers; Tina and Theodore are only two of the many who are trapped. However, because of damage to the building's structure, it will be some time before a rescue crew can arrive. So, to kill time, Theodore starts quizzing Tina about her date for the weekend -- He overheard her in conversation with a friend -- which quickly turns into an argument about her apparent preference for white men.

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  • STAGE AND CINEMA REVIEW OF Lift

    BETTER CROSS THIS OFF YOUR LIFT

    Dmitry Zvonkov

    October 28, 2014: Nothing quite fits together in Walter Mosley’s flat, agenda-heavy and undisciplined Lift, about a young black man and woman who find themselves trapped in a skyscraper elevator after the building is hit by a terrorist attack; Marshall Jones III’s unfocussed direction doesn’t do the material or his actors any favors. When a play that takes place in one room over the course of a few hours needs to dim the lights every few minutes to indicate scene changes and time passing, it suggests to me a lack of inspiration on the part of the playwright. Especially in this case, where the room could plummet 300 feet at any moment—why let the audience off the hook suspense-wise with these unmotivated blackouts? And why make them unmotivated when there are good reasons built into the world of the play for the lights to go dark? This kind of haphazardness permeates Mr. Mosley’s creation; the writing lacks elegance and common sense, and feels like that early, pre-breakthrough draft into which the playwright crams as many ideas and themes as he can—which in this case include racial politics, S&M, patricide, and drug addiction—bending and forcing them all to fit, whether they want to or not. - See more at: http://www.stageandcinema.com/2014/10/28/lift-59e59/#sthash.0nWe3TPF.dpuf

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  • THEATER PIZZAZZ REVIEW OF Lift

    Lift – 59e59 Theaters

    Susan Hasho

    October 26, 2014: In the play Lift, two people are stuck in an elevator during an extreme undefined event—bomb, attack, unknown. If this continues for two hours, it better be, at best, interesting. In this production at 59e59 Theaters, though the actors are willing, the script gives them a long journey scattered with clichés. Written by author Walter Mosley, creator of the classic mystery series centered on Easy Rawlins, the events in the play force two people, Theodore Southmore (Biko Eisen-Martin) and Tina (Maame Yaa Boafo), to trust each other to struggle for survival. Personal secrets are revealed, the two characters get closer and help arrives. This small limited scenario demands risk taking on the part of the playwright in order to keep an audience challenged and engaged. Mosley provided minimal insight into the situation and only skimmed the surface of the characters. Biko Eisen-Martin and Maame Yaa Boafo have developed an interesting and warm connection with each other and work very well together which makes them worth watching. That they have nowhere to go in an elevator, is the writer’s problem and our loss.

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