New York playwright Mike Lemme debuted his newest comedy, “50th & 4th,” Feb. 14, as part of the 2018 Frigid Festival –– a fringe festival located on the Lower East Side. Despite some slight drawbacks, the short show is chiefly endearing and resonant for any New Yorker.
“50th & 4th” highlights Rick (Emil Ferzola) and Sue (Gloria Lamoureux), two longtime New Yorkers who have been married for who knows how long. They reside in Brooklyn and rent their spare bedroom out to younger people desperate for a cheap living space through Craigslist. Coined as a Craigslist mom many times throughout the show, Sue treats her tenants like children and often brags about how she, Mike and past tenants are like a little family.
When their newest tenant, Taylor (Kirsten Dwyer), enters the space for a tour, the show begins.
Taylor, 29, is a naive actress who is trying to make it in New York. Taylor, Rick and Sue spend their first night together grappling with loving New York, leaving New York, their relationships with their parents and the complexities of love.
The plot and its main dilemmas are resonant for New Yorkers –– both young and old. Taylor represents the struggle of people coming to the city to chase their dreams and suddenly finding themselves surrounded by a million people doing the same thing. Rick and Sue grapple with a familiar question: as magical as New York City is, do we stay here forever?
Erected in the black box theater UNDER St. Marks, “50th & 4th,” with its minimal set, evokes the interior of a dingy New York apartment. Locals attending the show will know these too well: lines about St. Marks Place, anecdotes about bars in Greenwich Village and walks through Washington Square Park. Replete with jokes about Brooklyn and New Jersey, the show is uniquely New York.
Lamoureux and Ferzola play very charming portrayals of Sue and Rick. Their thick accents and playful bickering inspire laughter and a familiarity that is almost universal. As the characters navigate major life decisions, tense moments arise, but there is never a doubt that love between them endures.
In contrast to the stunning performances from Lamoureux and Ferzola, Dwyer’s overstated portrayal of Taylor is a bit exhausting to watch. Dwyer’s fixation on her character’s naive, Brooklyn hipster foibles overpowers Lemme’s writing and leaves punchlines out to dry. Dwyer intends to draw contrast between Taylor and her proprietors but instead makes the character inauthentic and not very enjoyable to watch.
Lemme wrote and produced “50th & 4th” as “a tribute to everyone who brought you to the city and the new kind of family you create when you’re here.” Overall, he succeeds, and the play is warm and enjoyable. It tells a story about love — for a city and for each other. Lemme’s script is relatable and endearing, and audience members left the opening night performance full of warm nostalgia on a chilly February night.
“50th & 4th” is running at UNDER St. Marks Theater through Feb. 28. Tickets can be purchased here.
A version of this article appeared in the Feb. 20 print edition. Email Emily Fagel at [email protected]