901 NOWHERE STREET (Sam Tower + Ensemble): 2015 Fringe Review 25

Lauren Tuvell as nightclub singer Olivia L’Amour in 901 NOWHERE STREET (Photo credit: Kate Raines)

Lauren Tuvell as nightclub singer Olivia L’Amour in 901 NOWHERE STREET (Photo credit: Kate Raines)

The dark and foggy cinematic world of film noir is given a theatrical twist in Sam Tower + Ensemble’s 901 NOWHERE STREET, where young anti-heroines (portrayed by Emilie Krause, Anna Szapiro, Merri Rashoyan, and Lauren Tuvell) dominate the traditionally male detective genre, and men are heard about but not seen. Directed by Tower, Jeremy Gable’s script employs the dated cheeky lingo, familiar characters (the woman in distress, private eye, femme fatale, con artist, murder victim), and ubiquitous accessories (cigarettes, a martini, and a suitcase) from a 1940s crime thriller. But this ambitious updated parodic version of the classic murder mystery also interjects anachronistic references, including slang, electronic music (composition and performance by Alec MacLaughlin), and songs from later decades (“Crazy,” “What’s New, Pussycat,” “Helter Skelter”), along with the favorite Philadelphia-Fringe format of ensemble-devised movement, all of which break the sultry vintage mood with a staccato and anomalous post-modernism. Though investigator Michelle Flynn (played by Rashoyan) declares, “I like my stories linear,” 901 NOWHERE STREET is anything but!

While the characters’ recurrent use of morphine invokes a muddled perception of their story, actions, and flashbacks, and a ballet-dancing white horse (Caitlin Dagle) evokes a drug-induced fantasy world, period-style costumes (by Tower), tenebrous lighting that casts long shadows (Andrew Thompson), haunting sound (Aziz Naouai), and the appropriately smoky voice of fictional nightclub singer Olivia L’Amour (Tuvell) effectively recall the ambience of an eerie old-time mystery in the murky basement venue (set by Tower; installations by Kevin Meehan). [Power Plant Productions, 233 N. Bread Street] September 8-17, 2015; fringearts.com/901-nowhere-street.

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About the author

Debra Miller

Debra holds a PhD in Art History from the University of Delaware and teaches at Rowan University, Glassboro, NJ. She is a judge for the Barrymore Awards for Excellence in Theatre, Philadelphia Arts and Culture Correspondent for Central Voice, and has served as a Commonwealth Speaker for the Pennsylvania Humanities Council and President of the Board of Directors of Da Vinci Art Alliance. Her publications include articles, books, and catalogues on Renaissance, Baroque, American, Pre-Columbian, and Contemporary Art, and feature articles on the Philadelphia theater scene.