Thursday, May 9, 2024

NYC Theater Trip 2024: "October 7: A Verbatim Play" at The Actors Temple Theatre Off-Broadway

Show*: 3

Title: October 7: A Verbatim Play

Location: The Actors Temple Theatre

Written By: Phelim McAleer

Summary: A docu-play about the horrific attack on Israel by the terrorist group Hamas on October 7, in which over 750 civilians were killed.

Highlights: Irish couple Phelim McAleer, journalist and filmmaker, and Ann McElhinney, producer, traveled to Israel shortly after the October 7 attacks to interview the survivors. Phelim has compiled these interviews into a compelling 90-minute story that takes us chronologically through that horrifying day and into the next. Similar to The Laramie Project, all of the dialogue is taken from the survivor interviews, well-constructed to tell a cohesive story of a dozen or so different people - people at the Nova music festival running for their lives, families hiding in a safe room for over 24 hours, an observant man who broke the Sabbath by driving his car to go find people and transport them to safety, and off-duty military who protected civilians. The talented 14-person cast portray multiple characters with great empathy and emotion. Despite all of the unspeakable horrific things that happened that day, the play is not overly graphic, focusing more on the emotions of the survivors than the grisly details of the worst crimes. But we still get a sense of the terror felt by these ordinary people who were just going about their daily lives, never thinking that something like this could happen to them. The story was made more intimate by the small off-Broadway theater, with the cast running up and down the aisle with urgency, while sound and lighting design made us feel like we were there with them.

I saw a preview of the show, and despite a small glitch with the start time, it felt polished and ready to go. After this Off-Broadway run concludes on June 7, they plan to tour it on college campuses, so that this powerful and important story continues to be told

*Once again, I'm using an abbreviated Fringe-style summary for my NYC 2024 trip, since I am in the greatest city in the world with much more exciting things to do than write! Click here to see all of my Broadway-related blog posts.