There’s a new theater group in Long Island City.
Last August Variations Theatre Group took over the old U.S. Chain factory on 45th Road, which in the past served as a photo development facility and a plant for industrial syringes, then turned it into the Chain Theatre in November.
The spacious venue has a gallery that currently hosts Terri Moore’s paintings, a collection of simple yet elegant white circles painted on dark navy blue backgrounds. In the performance room the black stage sits in the middle surrounded by rows of chairs, a design which caters to the theater’s current show’s many epic fight scenes.
The company hosts weekend theater camps and will bring burlesque to the space in April. Last Saturday Variations Theatre Group produced “Venus & Mona,” running through the end of the month.
The play centers around potty-mouthed identical twins: Venus, an addict following in her mother’s dangerous footsteps, and Mona, an actress who made it big in Hollywood but is struggling to stay popular.
The girls meet on the rooftop of their mother’s home, which is surrounded by mountains of trash. The twins immediately engage in a five-minute-long “slug fest” throwing fists and f-bombs freely.
They discuss their mother, whom they not-so lovingly call Junky Drunk, as well as a monster that guards the trash heap, keeping the duo stranded on the roof.
The mysterious creature may have been a manifestation of the twins’ anger and fear from being raised by a mother incapable of mothering or it could have been a drug- and booze-fueled hallucination, because although they can’t get down from the roof they manage to have enough cheap vodka, heroin, cocaine and marijuana to say they were totally bombed. However, except for taking a break from beating the daylights out of each other, the actresses didn’t seem all that cracked out despite how the whole premise of a monster and each girl’s trying to kill her “sister self” on a roof is pretty insane on it’s own.
Mona, played by Christina Elise Perry, with her long blond hair and skintight army green pants, has a very Jennifer Lawrence in “The Hunger Games” look. She aptly moved around the stage and swung between an actress who loves to stick her butt out and swear and a sister who loves to smack her twin around.
Venus, played by Amy Newhall, also does a good job of fake fighting and swearing. Newhall delivers a few believable emotional dialogues as well.
The only other actor — beside Christopher Schultz, who stays under the stage the entire play and makes the giant ant-like legs of the monster come alive — was Detective Cortes, played by Becky London. London stomped around the roof and tried to make the twins stop fighting for the second half of show, which gave some much-needed relief from the bizarre sister drama.
Overall it was hard to know if the play had a deeper meaning or if it should be taken at face value like watching a WWF spectacle. Either way there are worse ways to spend a night.
When: Wednesday through Saturday, March 30 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, March 24 at 2 p.m.
Where: Chain Theatre, 21-28 45th Road, LIC
Tickets: $18, $15 for “locals,” seniors and students