"Ensemble Studio Theater’s annual one-act-play marathon is always entertaining and rich in solid performances... one play that stands out [is] A Sunrise in Times Square, by Sharr White. The marvelous performances by Julie Fitzpatrick and Joseph Lyle Taylor carry it to another level. Ms. Fitzpatrick, an underappreciated gem of an actress, knows how to give depth to quirky characters. Both are delightfully awkward, and watching them find and occasionally grope their way to a mutually supportive moment is achingly enjoyable." - The New York Times
“The Favor by Leslie Ayvazian, is another fine two-hander built on awkwardness. Ralph (Grant Shaud) is reluctant to carry out the odd request made of him by his wife, Ellen (Janet Zarish): She wants him to go into the next room and give her dying mother a kiss. And not just a peck on the cheek." - The New York Times
"Daddy Took My Debt Away by Bekah Brunstetter, the opener, finds humor and pathos in the world of maxed-out credit cards. The three actors, Emma Galvin, David Gelles and Jonathan Randell Silver, give it zest." - The New York Times
“Something Like Loneliness, by Ryan Dowler, is the most inventive piece of writing on display. In Mr. Dowler’s world, sounds are captured in food storage containers, and with them, fragments of past relationships. [Jane Pfitsch and Chris Wight] proceed to engage in the oddest Tupperware party ever, with the sounds they barter revealing hopes and disappointments." - The New York Times
"Daniel Reitz’s You Belong to Me [is an] astute character study about an encounter on the subway between former college flames: Susan (Patricia Randell), who has achieved bourgeois success in a gig at an arts foundation, and the troubled genius Robby (the excellent Scott Parkinson, who evokes great poignancy with astonishing economy)." - The New York Times
“Something Fine by Eric Dufault, features the phenomenal Cathy Curtin as a desperate, sleep-deprived truck driver who is trying to make it home in time for her daughter’s 4th birthday."
- The New York Times
"Joshua Conkel’s Curmudgeons in Love is the comic crowd pleaser of the evening. David Margulies and Martin Shakar play the explosive, foul-mouthed, retirement-home-resident stars in this latest addition to the inexhaustible grumpy-old-men genre. While the play is not exactly a font of subtlety, it is pure heaven to see these superannuated rascals cuss (and kiss!) up a storm."
- The New York Times
"Daniel Reitz’s You Belong to Me is a subtle, quiet, luminous slice of theater." - Time Out New York
"Joshua Conkel’s Curmudgeons in Love, a loudly funny, surprisingly sweet tale of twilight-years romance that feels like a full-length work in the making." - Time Out New York
"Sharr White confirms he's one of the theater's rising writing stars with A Sunrise in Times Square. At first, it appears that the quirky, sachet-loving Madeline (Julie Fitzpatrick) has asked former firefighter Marky (the sublime Joseph Lyle Taylor) to stop by her apartment simply to make sure everything is in order in case of a blaze. Over the course of the frequently funny, bittersweet 25 minutes, we discover not only what has prompted Madeline's seemingly strange fears, but why she has created this awkward (if surprisingly successful) attempt to connect romantically with Marky. The revelation, handled with extraordinary grace by Fitzpatrick, is heartbreaking and authentic.
“Seduction of a similar kind goes almost as well for Eddie (Andy Nogasky), the less-than-physically-attractive title character of Robert Askins' clever Love Song of an Albanian Sous Chef. Given one last night to convince fiery female bartender Billy (a hilarious Danielle Slavick) of his charms, Eddie pulls out all the stops by preparing her a memorable meal — including food that actually talks!”
“With a patented hangdog expression and an expert sense of comic timing, Grant Shaud proves to be perfectly cast in Leslie Ayvazian's The Favor.” - Theatermania
"Special kudos go to scenic designer Nick Francone and the EST staff for ensuring that transitions between the plays go smoothly and quickly, giving audiences just enough time to savor each work yet never allowing us to get too hungry for the next bite." - Theatermania
"As the Bard taught us, "Brevity is the soul of wit." At Ensemble Studio Theatre, wit seems to also be the soul of brevity. Five comedies make up Series C of EST's 34th Marathon of One Act Plays... their distinct comedic voices (paired with some creatively designed sets by Nick Francone) make for a well-balanced and engaging afternoon of entertainment." - Theatermania
"Christopher Sullivan's Carry the Zero sticks with the theme of sex and modern relationships. He plants us in the middle of an awkward car ride with Marc and Nicole (Alex Herrald and Megan Tusing), a pair of inarticulate high schoolers who have just had their first taste of hook-up culture. Both give strong performances — Herrald, a loveable stoner-type and Tusing, taking on a persona reminiscent of the tomboyish Ellen Page from the film Juno. For a scene depicting one of the most unfortunate aspects of today's youth culture, I give Sullivan (and director Robert Saenz de Viteri) kudos for finding its endearing spirit." - Theatermania
"Zero by Tommy Smith is by far the most cleverly constructed. With direction by William Carden, Curran Connor gives a standout performance as a 32-year-old architect who moves into a new apartment on a year-long architecture grant. Daily encounters with his observant doorman (Shanga Parker) peel back the layers of this philandering, binge-drinking, and pot-smoking mess of a character. These brief meetings, sometimes only seconds long, mold an impressively nuanced, three-dimensional character who we almost can't believe we met less than 30 minutes ago." - Theatermania
"Jon Kern's Hate the Loser Inside, directed by R.J. Tolan, is as close to a big finish as you could imagine... Brad Bellamy wins the award for comedic performance of the day as college football national championship coach Donny Broadhaus, recruited to shoot a local commercial for a kitchen furnishing company. With the exception of an occasional interaction between Coach Broadhaus and the commercial's director Wendell (the charmingly twerpy Graeme Gillis), Bellamy commandeers the floor for a hilarious 20-minute one-man show. He spirals into raging fits of self loathing like a grand finale at a fireworks display: throwing breakfast dishes, squeezing the bejeezus out of a grapefruit, and spouting off some of the most creative profanities I've ever had the privilege of hearing — a perfect button to this lineup of thoroughly entertaining performances." - Theatermania
"Kern’s Hate the Loser Inside boasts a tour-de-force comic performance by Brad Bellamy, as a celebrated football coach desperately trying to perform a TV commercial for a kitchen design company. As he flubs take after take, he unleashes a hilarious torrent of ever more colorful expletives." - NY Post
"The program’s highlight is Tommy Smith’s Zero, depicting a series of strained exchanges between the officious doorman (Shanga Parker) of an upscale apartment building and a new tenant (Curran Connor). The brief, hilarious vignettes reflect the love-hate relationship between city dwellers and the doormen who often know far more about us than we’d like to admit." - NY Post