Off-Broadway is the place to go for talent, creativity, and the real craft of acting; the birthplace for the careers of young actors, playwrights, directors, producers and so on. Anything on Broadway or London stages has gone through so much vetting that if you don’t enjoy them, it must something wrong with you. One such newly born entity is the Mondays Dark Theatre Company with its premiere production of If You Start A Fire [Be Prepared to Burn] by Kevin Kautzman.

The play is an absolute gem, dealing with changing social mores, the conditions facing young people economically and how they’re finding creative ways to make money and the extent to which they’ll go to profit in these times.  It deals with sexuality in the most hilarious ways; relationships; work ethics and the differences between economic classes. Kevin Kautzman is clearly a brilliant author and sophisticated wit, having a talent for seeing right through society’s masks and dealing humorously with today’s truths without yesterday’s phobias.

The acting was exceptionally fine… I’d go so far as to say ‘outstanding’.  Lenny Platt, formerly of One Life to Live was incredible, going from excessively macho truck driver to online sexual performer and the ‘brains’ of the outfit.  His ‘genius’ ideas lead to nothing less than total hilarity and a fun, enjoyable and thought-provoking evening.

Spencer Rose,  in the female leading role (there are no others, I might add) gives a stunning performance as a disconcerted waitress and wife coping with on-the-job sexual harassment, a husband who’s educational choices have led him to an unrewarding career as a truck driver and angst about health insurance, money and even a hanging plant.  She delves into the possibilities presented by her sexually frustrated spouse and finds his seemingly insane ideas work, yielding solutions she had only dreamed about.

Together, Platt and Rose make as ideal a couple today as Jackie Gleason and Audrey Meadows did in ‘The Honeymooners’ in the mid-1950’s.  Just as they did then, today’s couples cope with conditions in the most unusual, extreme conditions in humorous, often rip-roaringly funny ways.  They bring us Kautzman’s play with sterling performances, poignant emotion, and a sincere talent for subtle comedic acting that doesn’t overwhelm, but brings the audience to intense laughter and applause.

Kenny Howard’s direction is excellent and the play was performed without a hitch. Complex scenery changes were handled exceptionally well, and the play is absolutely a must-see if you’re in New York during its run.

Mondays Dark Theatre Company is the brainchild of producers Rob Hinderliter, Dominick LaRuffa, Jr. and Anthony Johnston. Mondays Dark is a not-for-profit theatre company so please consider making a donation to this worthwhile breeding ground of future talent. Intent on launching new plays that are unlikely to become the grand-scale Broadway or West-End extravaganza, Mondays will never lack for talent, or, for that matter, creativity.  Bravo to these ingenious young producers!

If You Start A Fire [Be Prepared to Burn] will run from September 14th – September 23rd at the 45th Street Theater, located at 354 W. 45th St. in Manhattan.   Buy tickets online at https://www.artfullyhq.com/store/events/105

Mondays Dark Theatre Company / www.mondaysdark.org

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