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Off-Off-Broadway Review

Damon and Debra

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Playwright Judy Chicurel makes her theatrical debut with "Damon and Debra"—and it shows. What the writer lacks in sophistication, though, she makes up for with a sympathetic touch for her characters.

The premise is ripe with possibilities. In a post–Sept. 11 New York, an undefined "incident" strands two strangers alone in a subway car. Damon (Julito McCullum), a shy 21-year-old African American, is en route to work as a hospital orderly. Debra (Michelle H. Zangara) is a sharp-tongued 40-something white woman who has just discovered she has breast cancer, the same disease that killed her mother two years earlier.

Unfortunately, the drama ends there. The two recount their histories and spar briefly on race, illness, families, and politics. But neither offers much original insight on any of the issues raised. There are a few funny moments—Zangara gets better lines, but McCullum scores more laughs—but the pair never generate fireworks. The director, Passion, sets a good pace, and both actors do a solid job, but their combined efforts can't make up for a tepid script.

Presented by B Train Productions as part of the New York International Fringe Festival at the Studio @ the Cherry Lane Theatre, 38 Commerce St., NYC. Aug. 1729. Remaining performances: Fri., Aug. 21, 4:45 p.m.; Tue., Aug. 25, 5:45 p.m.; Fri., Aug. 28, 7 p.m.; Sat., Aug. 29, 8 p.m. (866) 468-7619 or www.fringenyc.org.

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