Volume 75, Number 21 | October 12 - 18, 2005

Photo by Brian Barenio

Rodney To (l) and Hoon Lee play aspiring actors willing to jump through hilarious hoops for their roles in “Sides: The Fear is Real.”

Calling all crumpers: ‘Sides’ pokes fun at auditioning

By Josh Rogers

If you ever worry that there aren’t many good writers writing for the theater anymore, take heart because six actors are showing off their skills every night at The Culture Project on Bleecker Street. “Sides: The Fear is Real” is written and performed by six Asian-American actors who know all too well how ridiculous actors, casting directors and auditions can be.

The play, a series of skits with some recurring characters, is, above all else, funny. “Sides” refers to the written directions actors are given before auditions and the writers use real sides they or their friends have been given as a basis for the sketches. There’s Danbury Brackenbury III, a 5’ 6” Fillipino/American tone deaf actor who a director thought “must look Puerto Rican” with “crumping and ghetto fluency a plus.”

“Sides” does touch on the stereotypes ethnic actors face such as the casting director looking for an angry Korean deli clerk who asks an actor how he would feel if he were a doctor arriving from another country who was forced to work as a clerk in America.

Mostly the play avoids social commentary and goes for the joke and scores. The actors are most comfortable making fun of their colleagues, from an auditionee paralyzed by fear to the Shakespearean thespian who tries to be “street.”

Randy To, whose roles include Brackenbury and a director named Ding Ding who is as bright as his name suggests, stands out, but the rest of the ensemble—Sekiya Billman, Jane Cho, Paul H. Juhn, Peter Kim and Hoon Lee—all have their moments and play off each other well.

The friends have refined their play since first performing it a few years ago at the New York International Fringe Festival and hope to take it on the road. Before they do, you have the rest of the month to see that live comedy is indeed alive and well on Bleecker.

“Sides: The Fear is Real.” Written by Sekiya Billman, Jane Cho, Paul H. Juhn, Peter Kim, Hoon Lee & Randy To and directed by Anne Kauffman. The Culture Project, 45 Bleecker St., through Oct. 30. (212-307-4100; ticketmaster.com)

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