Theater Review: Crossing Paths in Washington Square

Barbara Kahns heartfelt play stirs NYCs melting pot

Walking into the Theater for the New City, an unprepared audience finds itself surrounded by instruments, wardrobe and abstract art, like an intricate array of shoes cascading from the ceiling. The theater cradles the unique and exciting Crossing Paths in Washington Square, the new play from multi-award winning playwright, actor, director, and coach Barbara Kahn. When the narration starts rolling, the lights focus in, and you are softly welcomed to Washington Square Park to watch as life carries a variety of people through working-class Greenwich Village in 1913.

Set in mid-summer, the play focuses on Emily (Mali MacConnell) and the vision of her future, Anne (Steph Van Vlack), two women from upper-class backgrounds who bond over their loveless marriages, interest in the suffrage movement and desire for new lives. Expressing hidden secrets and doubts, they endeavor toward freedom. Jewish-American Molly (Sasha Diamond), who proudly models for artists, and Jewish immigrant Hana (Fatma Yalcin), who sews hats to work through Hunter College, share an immediate attraction that lures us into what lies deeper than Hana’s pretty smile. Italian laborer Alonzo (Robert Gonzales Jr.) still supports a wife and child in Italy although he “can’t remember what they look like.” He subsequently meets upper-class John (Benjamin Davis), whom he asks home—but John, who is burdened by an eternal secret and of bearing his family’s legacy, refuses but can’t resist. Finally, we meet Morrie (Bob Homeyer) the joker son of Jewish immigrant parents preoccupied with politics, and Lily (Noelle LuSane), an African-American working-class girl, determined to have the stories of her Jones Street neighbors’ published. Skeptical Lily and Morrie, making his way to a career in Vaudeville, spend their time laughing and crying into money and marriage.

You would never believe how they all connect, and how each path of life will cross and touch your heart. Kahn’s intricately woven play finishes with the cast and audience mingling on new paths and this time, welded together by life in the heart of Washington Square.

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