By William Wolf

PLEASE EXCUSE MY DEAR AUNT SALLY  Send This Review to a Friend

The important thing to remember at “Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally” is that this oddball play, presented by the One Year Lease Theater Company, is coming to us from the perspective of a cell phone recounting what has been said and happening. Also, there is no Aunt Sally in the play, written by Kevin Armento and directed by Ianthe Demos. The tricky title springs from a memory tactic used in teaching the algebra class figuring in the story.

Now that you have that straight, you can sit back and contemplate this unusual way of telling a tale that involves a high school algebra teacher and her student. With a cast of five scampering about on a minimal set with boxes as stools plus a pit (movement direction by Natalie Lomonte), the dialogue veers from individuals speaking to Greek chorus -like dispensing of narrative.

It takes a while to get the hang of the playwright’s unusual approach cued to our technical age of communication. The playwright may be making a comment, but basically, it is a different way of telling a story.

The teacher, played by Christina Bennett Lind, has a significant other, yet she falls for Red McCray, portrayed by Ethan Slater. Can any good come of it? We get the thrust of events via the constant chatter and swift pacing. If you read the script, you will see that it is not typical with one character saying this and another character saying that. It reads like a long description and that’s how it plays, which strikes me as having been a great challenge for the director and the actors. Others in the ensemble cast include Danny Bernardy, Sarah-Jane Casey and Nick Flint.

There is nothing torrid depicted in the narrative. But it did stimulate me to think of my high school days. There were at least two female teachers with whom I would have liked to have had an affair, and there is no way I would have complained of abuse. Alas, neither made advances as the teacher does in “Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally.”

What the play has going for it apart from Armento’s unusual idea is the acting by a very affable cast. At 59E59 Theaters, 59 East 59th Street. Phone: 212-279-4200.


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