The Flat Earth
Annie Lanzillotto' charming solo show laments the effects of gentrification.
As a kid, Lanzillotto and her friends would perch up on top of a mailbox and tell each other stories. Perhaps that accounts for the writer/performer's dynamic ability to weave her tales in such a compelling manner. She discusses being evicted by her landlord, her hospitalization for cancer, the bureaucracy involved in petitioning the city for low income housing -- which includes needing to have a mailbox with your name on it before even getting an application -- and touring friends around the city and being amazed about how much of what she remembers is simply no longer there.
There are some raunchy elements to her stories, such as when she describes making out with straight girls on the pier to the music of Earth, Wind, and Fire. At times, her words are also quite poetic. Noting how a traffic light's green lens was not working, she talks about how she "crossed in the absence of red."
The play's title references the flattening of the earth that was necessary to pave roads and erect buildings in Manhattan. "New York has a destiny of glitter," she asserts, holding up a piece of schist taken from underneath the city that does, indeed, sparkle like glitter. Her vision of New York is romantic and utopian, but Lanzillotto also expresses a frustration and anger that acknowledges the disconnect between her love of the city and the rising rents and corporate interests that are changing the feel of various neighborhoods.
Alex "Ducky" Edginton-Giordano's set includes working traffic lights that are mounted onto a bench press that Lanzillotto actually lifts at one point. It's a clever visual metaphor for attempting to raise the city up through sheer force of will.