Shelter in Place

How bad can things get when four misfits fear they're about to die in a burning building?

By Andrew Andrews

Jennifer (Megan Greener) and Zeek (Brandon Fox) argue as Jahoose (Rahoul Roy) ignores them. Original photo by Lorenzo Tijerina.

At four o’clock every Friday afternoon, four mismatched adults show up at an art studio to attend a drawing class.

Robert hopes that the creative outlet will help him manage his anger.

Jennifer needs to find an identity that’s not defined by her family.

Ithaca, a kleptomaniac, has previous artistic experience, but wants to establish herself in the art world.

And the resident weed dealer, Zeek, needs something to take his mind off the ex-girfriend who dumped him and won’t return his calls.

Seminar leader Jahoose has some personal problems of his own, but nobody can get to the bottom of them, because he prefers to keep his personal life personal.

The group’s dynamics are awkwardly funny and entertainingly tense… until the fire alarm goes off, Robert bolts for the door, and the rest of the bunch are instructed by an announcement over the public address system to Shelter in Place.

The casting and direction for this story are perfect: every actor performs their role as though it was written specifically for them.

The conversation among the five mismatched personalities is well conceived, with a realistic display of tempered manners behind personality flaws that are chomping at the bit to expose themselves.

The scenic design uses plenty of appropriate props to convey the setting, and the use of spotlighting to support the email discussion at the beginning of the second act is especially notable.

We had mixed feelings about the ending of this tale: I believe that Jahoose’s closing statement is one sentence longer than necessary, while my partner felt that the ending didn’t have enough resolution.

We both agreed, however, that all-in-all, this production by Playful Substance of this story by Raphael Perahia is a very entertaining play.


Andrew Andrews attended Shelter in Place at Under St Marks Theater in Manhattan on Thursday, October 24, 2019 @ 7:30pm to write this review.