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NEW YORK DAILY NEWS – Thursday, June 5, 2008


By Joe Dziemianowicz


Stunning ‘Body’ of workArticle Rating


Beyond its mundane title, “Body Awareness” is a comedy that’s fantastically fresh and satisfying – and comes with two bonuses. The Atlantic Theater Company production, which opened last night, also marks a pair of exciting Off-Broadway debuts.


One of them is by the playwright Annie Baker, 27, who establishes herself as a writer with big, bright ideas and the skill to turn them into something cohesive, heart-stirring and humorous.


The other debut is by actor Jonathan Clem, who graduated from NYU last month. He’s sensational playing a socially challenged young man in a performance that never tilts toward caricature.


They are in good company. Theater vets JoBeth Williams, Mary McCann and Peter Friedman complete the cast, with all in top form. Karen Kohlhaas’ direction is sharp and smart. Every detail, from the clothing to the snippets of songs by Joni Mitchell and Joan Baez played during blackouts, feels exactly right for these characters.


The story spans five days in Shirley, Vt., where lesbian life partners Joyce (Williams) and Phyllis (McCann) have their hands full teaching and being socially aware (but never P.C.). Then there’s Jared (Clem), Joyce’s 21-year-old son, who very likely has Asperger syndrome, an autism-like condition stunting his social development. He refuses to be tested for it, but his best pal is an electric toothbrush he massages his gums with when he’s stressed. Like after he says to Joyce, “I could kill you.” Welcome to leafy, low-key Vermont.


Phyllis is a psychology professor at Shirley State College, where her Body Awareness Week program is gliding along smoothly. Guest artist Frank Bonitatibus (Friedman) arrives and gums up the works with his photographs of nude women – and preteen girls. Feminist Phyllis finds his work highly offensive. Joyce, who’s more go-with-the-flow, appreciates the pics and even considers posing. Jared, whose new hobby is Pay-Per-View porn, just wants to talk to Frank about sex.


The plot takes some serious turns over 95 minutes, as relationships get bruised, tears are shed and toothbrushes buzz. What finally emerges is a fascinating family portrait, not apple pie but one all too real.


Click on the link below to read the rest of the review:



BODY AWARENESS plays Tuesday through Saturday at 8:00pm, Saturday matinees at 2:00pm and Sundays at 3:00pm. Curtain time on opening night – Wednesday, June 4th – will be 7:00 p.m. All tickets are $45.00 and available by calling Ticket Central at 212-279-4200 (www.ticketcentral.com).


ATLANTIC STAGE 2 is located at 330 West 16th Street (between 8th & 9th Avenues).  For membership information, wheelchair seating, and/or group sales call Ticket Central at 212-279-4200 or visit www.ticketcentral.com.




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