The New Ohio Theater’s latest production, Kate Benson and Emily Louise Perkins’ “I Will Look Forward to This Later,” has elements taken from and inspired by traditional Kabuki theater, a classical style of Japanese drama and dance known for its elaborate costuming and make-up. In the style of Kabuki theater, the play used stylized movements and a narrow strip of stage dividing the audience, making each entrance and exit dramatic.
The rest of the play, however, was fully itself. The set, consisting of a jumble of wooden moving crates of various sizes, seems almost to blend into the stage itself, creating the feeling of a home that someone has just moved into or perhaps is preparing to leave. When each crate is ingeniously revealed to fold open or collapse, a long, raised box that first acts as a coffin becomes a bar, and a smaller box stacked on another is lifted to reveal a coffee machine. Throughout the play, the boxes reveal more and more surprises, with the actors using them between scenes and moments in a wonderfully fluid manner. The creation of a nearly liminal space works perfectly with the concepts built up in the script.
The script itself revolves around the Holloway family, whose famed patriarch Wyatt (James Himelsbach) has just passed away. His wife Betsy (Linda Marie Larson) and two sons Robert and Samuel (Edward Bauer and Ben Beckley) find themselves dealing with his absence (including a complicated host of former lovers). Complex writing paints an intricate painting of the Holloway family. They are a family of lots of wealth, and though none of them are likeable, they aren’t villainized. It’s hard to feel sympathetic for celebrities, and the writers don’t try — but they do make them each human.
Overall, though, it was clear that painstaking effort was put into “I Will Look Forward” in every respect. The set was delightfully clever, the acting was wonderfully developed and even the lighting design was so delicately executed that it was only noticed in moments of colorful awe. Humor and wry wit are abound in the dialogue, and there’s nary a moment that slows the momentum of the plot.
“I Will Look Forward to This Later” is playing at the New Ohio Theater at 154 Christopher Street through April 23.
Email Hailey Nuthals at [email protected]
Edit: this story originally credited Stephen Aubrey as the playwright. The co-writers of this play are Kate Benson and Emily Louise Perkins.