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Off-Off-Broadway Review

For Artists Only

For Artists Only
Authors of studies in development that notoriously state that women mature more quickly than men might be interested to learn of Julia May Jonas' new play "For Artists Only," a stylish, engrossing expedition into the sometimes-immature behavior, romance, and rhythmic back and forth that make up feminine camaraderie.

The narrative tracks two city-based artists, a violinist named Julia and her writer friend Jennie, to the former's family summer home, where an extended vacation quickly gives way to a sort of sisterly antagonism. Things get off to a rocky start when Jennie reveals she has no money and then progressively deteriorate as she begins dating, leaving the huffing, puffing woman-child Julia (played tempestuously by Laine Rettmer) to fret alone. All this happens under the watchful eye of Sarah, the suicidal, Emily Dickinson–reading ex-girlfriend of Julia's mother, who serves as caretaker for the property. A nervous sexual tension hangs between all three characters, whether they are having it out in wine-fueled discourse or simply folding laundry.

Playwright-director Jonas clearly does character and dialogue well, but it is the surreal, music-driven flourishes that give this piece its unique shape. Guitar player Jon Lundbom's underscoring becomes frenzied after Jennie drops a bottle of wine, and everything diverts into a fastidious cleaning ritual. If Julia begins casually tapping the breakfast table, Jennie follows suit, and their entire exchange takes on a peculiar but absorbing syncopation. A later scene superbly builds tension around the clicking of Julia's metronome.
As the bossy, moody Julia, Rettmer's passions turn on a dime as needed. As Jennie, Nina Kassa excels in delivering an overly vindictive breakup monologue. Meghan Ritchie quietly absorbs abuse as the stoic Sarah, a role that offers only a few choice, bright-eyed moments.


Presented by Nellie Tinder in association with the Ontological-Hysteric Incubator
at the Ontological-Hysteric Theater at St. Mark's Church, 131 E. 10th St., NYC.
Dec. 10–19. Thu.–Sun., 8 p.m.(212) 352-3101, (866) 811-4111, www.theatermania.com, or www.ontological.com.

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