Rule of 7x7: December Holiday Edition

By Andrew Andrews

Kate Weber as Dr. Lee and Ariel Lauren as Mary in Not a Nativity Play:Part II of Rosalind Grush’s Reproductive Cycle

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Rule of 7x7 is one of our favorite events in Manhattan. Every couple of months, producer Brett Epstein invites seven writers to each produce a short play, each with seven “rules” (thematic elements that must appear in the script) selected by the writers themselves. Sometimes the rules are very loose—for example, Vitamins— while others are quite specific, such as Each play begins with a character staring at an item/prop for 10 seconds. She or he then says, “I think this is good” or “I think this is bad.”

The writers have only a few weeks to complete their works and find people to direct and star in them, quickly rehearse, then perform the show twice in one night. The price for attending makes this a no-brainer: $12 includes a free beer from the concession stand. And the plays are usually very funny—and really, really good. Incredibly good, considering the short time they have to throw them together!

In this edition, the above-mentioned rules were accompanied by: (3) Snowman. (4) The line, “we’re not that different” must be said. (5) A fart? (6) Someone quotes a poem. (7) Somewhere in pages 8-10, the characters experience the tenderest moment of their lives.

The show opened with the funny Run Wild, or, ’Tis the Season to be Joggy, in which running enthusiast Annie (Sarah Chalfie) bad-mouths a girl named Marcy (Sarah Sanders) unknowingly to her brother (Max Reinhardsen), only to have Marcy befriend her later with acts and words of kindness.

Next, writer Sam Perwin directed his own Buried Treasure, in which Jennifer Lauren Brown coolly played the level-headed friend of a man of questionable mental state (Jonathan Grunert), accompanying him as he digs his family cemetery plot in search of a lost work by Keats.

Our third play was Not a Nativity Play: Part II of Rosalind Grush’s Reproductive Cycle. Rania Jumaily, Grush’s fellow artistic director at The Tank, directed the ridiculously-funny (yet discouraging) piece about the health care struggles of a woman named Mary (Ariel Lauryn) who decides to have a baby on her own. Check out our photo above for what might have been the most compromising scene of the evening: Mary’s visit to the obstetrician, played by Kate Weber. Lucy Shelby rounded out the cast, dizzily performing three different air-headed receptionists.

In the final (and funniest) play before intermission, The Conversation Not Heard ’Round the World, talented performers Olivia Stoker and Ashley Denise Robinson imagined a conversation between Melania Trump and Michelle Obama as Drigan Lee and Wayne Mackins dramatized a coincidental discussion between their presidential counterparts.

After a short break, Epstein returned to the stage to appear in his own Holidays with Adam Driver, envisaging a seasonal get-together between said actor (played by Cary Gitter) and his two unknown brothers (Epstein and Alex Gould) back home in rural Vermont. Although completely inaccurate (according to Wikipedia), it was a humorous work of fiction with just the right touch of drama—exactly what we’ve come to expect from Epstein and his cohorts.

In The Test, writer Rachael Mason starred as Sarah, the second character of the evening in the early stages of pregnancy. Directed by Carrie McCrossen to run around the stage like beheaded chickens, Sarah and her husband (Curtis Rutherford) worried about whether they’d be fit-enough parents in their tiny Brooklyn junior one-bedroom apartment.

The action took a very dramatic turn in our final play, Big Date: the naive Zoe (Sophie Zamchick) is beyond exited about her big double-date with her best friend Ana (Marielle Young), until Ana announces that she’ll be returning home the next day to comfort her immigrant parents through the inauguration of Donald Trump. Zoe’s narcissism nearly ruins their relationship until the weight of the situation finally strikes. Perhaps the best of the evening, Cary Gitter’s script (expertly directed by Colette Robert) struck the perfect balance between comedy and tragedy.

Rule of 7x7 returns to The Tank on February 16th. It’s already on our calendars but don’t expect another review—you’ll have to experience it for yourself! Pro tip: there’s usually a bit more space for the early show, with the later performance filling not only the seats, but even the aisles. The Tank, by the way, is a non-profit incubator for artists and performers, giving you an extra-good reason to support the show.


Andrew Andrews attended Rule of 7x7: December Holiday Edition at The Tank in Manhattan on Thursday, December 15, 2016 @ 7:00pm to write this review.