What could possibly bring together a priest, two wealthy politicians from opposing parties, a mysterious Latina, a middle-aged redheaded woman, a spiritual guru, a gay black man, and a young heir? A bidding war! “The Choice” is a dramatic play tinged with caustic humor that centers around eight strangers who gather to participate in just that. When unforseen circumstances befall humanity, the competition becomes more intense than any of them could have ever imagined.
The Choice, writer/filmmaker Riccardo Costa’s full-length stage debut, opened on Monday night as part of the Dream Up Festival at the Theater For The New City (155 1st Avenue). The entire play is set in the house that the main character, Tom (Gregory Wool) inherits from his grandmother. Shortly after the eclectic group arrives at Tom’s mansion, sirens sound to alert of a nuclear attack. Suddenly, everyone is vying for the smallest room in the house: the basement, which contains a fallout shelter with a three person capacity. Being that he is the homeowner, it’s a given that one of the spaces belongs to Tom. Since with great power also comes great responsibility, it is he who must choose the other two who will join him to be among not only the sole survivors of the group, but of the Earth itself. As each individual presents his or her case, Tom learns that the people he must judge are not who they appear; during each minute that escapes the one hour window of survival before the radiation seeps in, one more ugly truth is revealed.
The Choice provides thoughtful, provocative insight to human nature and the desperate measures people will go to when staring death in the face. Wool, who recently played Lee Harvey Oswald in 5th Floor Productions’ revival of “Assassins,” is captivating as the main role of Tom. Spanish Harlem native Melanie Torres oozes sensuality as Patricia, an exotic woman who uses her sex appeal shamelessly to try to win Tom over. The rest of the cast is full of talented names who are well recognized in the theater community, including Josh Breckenridge, Ron Dizon, Nedra Gallegos, John Isgro, and award-winning actor and comedian Chuck Marti. Costa boldly challenges the traditional notion that a person’s worth ought to be measured by his or her sexuality or ability to reproduce, regardless of the goodness of that person’s heart; ultimately, he raises the question of whether it or not it is fair to use either to calculate a person‘s societal value.