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"Inventing Avi", Presented by Abingdon Theatre Company
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"Inventing Avi", Presented by Abingdon Theatre Company

- Backstage with the Playwrights

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Inventing Avi
Abingdon Theatre Company

By Robert Cary and Benjamin Feldman

At the
June Havoc Theatre
Abingdon Theatre Arts Complex
312 West 36th Street
Artistic Director: Jan Buttram

Juri Henley-Cohn, Stanley Bahorek
Alix Korey, Emily Zacharias
Lori Gardner, Havilah Brewster

Directed by Mark Waldrop

Set Design: Ray Klausen
Lighting Design: Brian Nason
Costume Designer: Matthew Hemesath
Sound Designer: David Margolin Lawson
Wig Design: Daniel Koye
Production Manager: Ian Grunes D+P
Production Stage Manager: Joshua R. Pilote
Casting Director: William Schill
Associate Artistic Director: Kim T. Sharp
Press: Shirley Herz Associates

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
October 15, 2009

Inventing Avi at Abingdon Theatre Company is one of the funniest and warmest plays Iíve seen in years. Even with its two hours and two acts, I didnít want it to end. A cast of six, with three doubling as three more, presents hilarious scenes placed within todayís New York theatre community. This play within a play, with flashbacks to sharpen charactersí personas, with over-the-top shtick, within an understated, scenic design of manuscript pages piled in stacks, really works. And the shtick extends to Holocaust deniers, Jewish philanthropy, and bisexual, predatory pimping, all for the vanity of names in lights.

Judy (Alix Korey) is a seasoned producer who canít read, with an assistant, David Smith (Stanley Bahorek), who wants her to produce his Holocaust play, but they need funding from a Jewish philanthropy, i.e., The Abraham Beagleman Trust, whose influential Board member is Mimi (Emily Zacharias), Judyís estranged sister. David goes to Kinkoís to copy his play and meets Amy (Havilah Brewster), an aspiring actress, who has a friend Avi Aviv (Juri Henley-Cohn), who persuades David to let him pretend to be the Israeli playwright of Davidís Holocaust play, so they secure funding. Lori Gardner, as Astrud, Mimiís maid (also an out-of-work scientist from Romania), doubles as a young Judy in family flashbacks. Ms. Brewster doubles as the young Mimi, and Ms. Zacharias doubles as her mother.

The current and flashback scenes sometimes play simultaneously, with clever sound and light effects, thanks to Brian Nasonís camera flashes and David Margolin Lawsonís camera sounds. There are monologues, via David, e.g. regarding his plight to claim ownership of his successful play, readings and rehearsals, with his playís characters and faux author, and situational flashbacks of the mother with Judy and Mimi, that rival the best of the retro, sit-com genre. Robert Cary and Benjamin Feldman create unpredictable plot twists and revelations, and Mark Waldrop keeps the timing seamless, with charismatic performances throughout. Matthew Hemesathís costumes are stunning and delightfully campy, while Daniel Koyeís wigs add strength to the shtick. Kudos to Abingdon Theatre Company for another sure hit.

My guest and I enjoyed a great, after-theatre snack at Tick Tock Diner & Grille, Eighth Avenue at 34th Street, which boasts home-cooked food, 24 hour service, and retro murals of 1930ís New York.

Alix Korey and Emily Zacharias,
"Inventing Avi"
Courtesy of Kim Sharp

Alix Korey and Stanley Bahorek
in "Inventing Avi"
Courtesy of Kim Sharp

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For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at