American Dreamers

Mallory (Sue Kim) and Becca (Sarah Chalfie) discuss their discontent on the sofa of their apartment in West of 10th’s production of Lia Romeo’s American Dreamers. Original photo by Ashley Garrett.

By Andrew Andrews

Playwright Lia Romeo really knows her craft.

When we saw her play What Happened That Night a few months ago, we lauded her for writing such a powerful story.

Now she’s won us over again with American Dreamers, produced by West of 10th at the WorkShop Theater, a few flights up from The Tank in Midtown West.

The production stars Sarah Chalfie as Becca Barrington, a twenty-something server at a wings joint with a useless degree in Psychology.

We last saw Chalfie in the somewhat-experimental play FILL FILL FILL FILL FILL FILL FILL at The Flea, where she led us through the emotional turmoil of rebounding from a long-term relationship.

Although we’ve seen other uses of Chalfie’s talents in Rule of 7x7 at the aforementioned Tank, Becca was also recently dumped by her boyfriend.

For Becca, however, it’s worse than that: she’s been dumped by the whole wide world, which promised her a sunny future then delivered a sky full of clouds.

So how does she cope? With the help of her friends, of course.

Except that her friends are not really her friends; more accurately, they’re her roommates.

Trevor (Tony Christopher) is a “charming slacker” who wants to write original music to “change the world” but just can’t seem to get started.

Mallory (Sue Kim) is the pampered daughter whose father works so hard so she doesn’t need to work at all. So she shops instead, and tells Becca about her sexual escapades with pretty much everyone in town.

Now let’s face it: the world enjoys picking on millennials as entitled and miserable, and Romeo’s characters epitomize the generational stereotype, making it easy to dismiss the lot of them.

But there wouldn’t be much of a story here if we were subjected to eighty-or-so minutes of three crybabies complaining about their missing jet packs.

So Becca is given a way out—an excuse to quit her dead-end job and an opportunity to save up money to buy her own condo, “get established” and invest for her future.

Introducing Alicia (Violet Picayo), a confident and charismatic escort who convinces Becca they’d “totally love” her if she became a call girl.

So she does… after overcoming her reservations.

And her first client turns out to be her old high-school psychology teacher Mr. Malvern (Timothy Mullins).

And what happens next makes this a five-star show.

Not the “OH MY GOD CAN YOU BELIEVE WHAT THEY DID!?” kind of five-star show, but the kind of show that earns its stars the hard way: with fully-developed characters and a convincing story line, expertly portrayed by a talented cast under a director (Molly Clifford) who really seems to understand the playwright’s intent.

So check it out, then come back and tell us what you liked about it.

Your reviews help others decide if American Dreamers is right for them, and your ratings help us help you find future performances you’re sure to love!


Andrew Andrews attended American Dreamers at Workshop Theater in New York on Wednesday, August 15, 2018 @ 12:34pm to write this review.

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