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Ebbets Field in Brooklyn

by Pat Arnow

Tale of 2 Cities, by Heather Woodbury, A play at PS 122 (First Ave. and 9th St.)

When the Brooklyn Dodgers moved to L.A., a housing project went up in its place. At the same time, in L.A., the people in a barrio lost their homes to make way for the new Los Angeles Dodgers stadium. Those misguided displacements provide a framework for an exciting piece of theater by Heather Woodbury playing through the end of the month at P.S. 122.

The characters who people the neighborhoods past and present in A Tale of 2 Cities are such distinctive individuals, it's hard to imagine how the playwright could have created them. She had help. This playwriting process was collaborative with the performers. So the cabbie and the disturbed teen, the old Jewish lefty, the Hispanic woman, and the deejay, all tell their stories with different cadences, concerns, physical moves, telling details. It's like jazz; they take their solos, then play together.

All the performers, including the playwright herself, play several characters, and they're all good, the accents, the body language, the age, and manner of speaking. But Tracey Leigh really stood out. As the disturbed teenager who may or may not have beat up the old Jewish woman, she is mesmerizing. With her changes in rhythm, tonal range, twitches and tics, her performance is wily as a fox. I haven't been so impressed by a single performance since I saw Sarah Jones for the first time, also at P.S. 122. Leigh can fill those considerable footprints.

Tale of 2 Cities is a two-parter Part 1 and 2 each stand alone as a play. I've seen the first so far, so I can safely vouch for that one being stunning.

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