The best bartenders remember you by the names of the cocktails you drink. A good play with a catchy title can linger the same way. So why not combine the two at a local gin distillery for the inaugural, world-premiere of #COCKTAILPLAYS. A fittingly bold entrance for Juniper Productions and Sonya Aronowitz in their goal to “engage new audiences in non-traditional venues” all throughout Philadelphia.
In the first hour, two smartly-dressed, well-informed bartenders serve up cocktails specifically developed around the four short plays to follow, with ingredients decided upon at brainstorming sessions among playwrights, actors, actresses, directors, and the bar staff. This blend of process with intentionality of final product makes for a seductive start. It’s hard not to feel special. The night ensues with an adept cast – Tyler Elliott, Grayce Hoffman, and Taiwo Sokan – who smoothly transition between plays and roles. The bar and the signature drinks serve as the only connecting themes. Covering a wide array of topics – an unexpected threesome request, coworkers plotting to disclose classified information, citizens distilling the implications of a Trump presidency, and a strange inner-city scam packaged as good will – the plays entertain and hold interest throughout but rarely penetrate deeper layers of emotional resonance.
It’s the perfect sell for a reluctant Fringe first-timer. Raising a glass, to a fun night out on town and to Juniper Productions whose trajectory is promising. Philadelphia is lucky to have you!
[Philadelphia Distilling, 25 East Allen Street] September 18-20, 2017; fringearts.com/event/cocktail-plays-5/