Axis Company presents A Glance at New York, by Benjamin Baker.
"4 Stars -- one of the freshest pieces of theatre on the Fringe... Fusing the old-fashioned
saucy farce of vaudeville to contemporary NYC trends for mass-character storytelling,
Axis have created a new art form wholly specific to their city" -- The List, Edinburgh
"Stylistically impressive... A polished cast, no-nonsense staging and the considered
inclusion of two unpretentious musical numbers make for a satisfying piece of theatre."
-- Edinburgh Evening News
"The maturely confident ensemble was operatic...and flowed in a liquid-like seamlessness, evoking the authentic sense of the raw, tatty and dangerous world of New York in 1848."
-- Total Theatre (Arts Council England)
After a workshop production in 2003 and a 2007 hit in Edinburgh, Axis Company will present an Off-Broadway revival of Benjamin A. Baker's 1848 melodrama A Glance at New York. The original production of this vaudeville play following the adventures of Mose The Fireman became the biggest theatrical sensation of 1848 and played to packed houses for years. Known as the toughest man in the nation's toughest city, Baker's Mose was a brave trailblazer for a new kind of American theatre populated by recognizable
characters that spoke to the common man. The Axis production is an experimental event carefully adapted by the Company for a contemporary audience.
A Glance at New York is set during a particularly dangerous and raw period in New
York City history. The play is an unmitigated conglomeration of vulgarity and illiteracy
following a burly firefighter named Big Mose. Known as the toughest man in the nation's
toughest city, Mose spends much of his time beating whomever is in his path before
rushing off to rescue a screaming innocent from a burning tenement.
Benjamin Baker was a volunteer fireman with Engine Co. #15 who also worked as an actor and prompter at Mitchell's Olympic Theater (on Broadway between Howard & Grand Street -- where A Glance at New York was originally staged). The play was based on Moses Humphrey, an Irish printer employed by The New York Sun and a real-life volunteer fireman. Annals of the New York Stage (1927) called the play "one of the greatest successes ever known in the history of the New York stage." After the overwhelming success of A Glance at New York, Baker again used Mose as the central character in New York as It Is (1848), and the interest in the Mose character was capitalized immediately by other writers and actors.