The Cast Changes Daily, But Its Heart Stays the Same
By MARK BLANKENSHIP
When you see NASSIM, don't be surprised if you happily give away the contents of your pockets or loudly recite a language you've never spoken before. Don't even be shocked if you cheer for strangers when they, say, bound on stage to eat cherry tomatoes. This is a play that makes it fun to play along.
But there's more to the show than whimsy. In just 75 minutes, NASSIM tucks enormous meaning into its lighthearted moments, reminding us how rewarding it is to be kind to each other.
That spirit is there from the beginning, when a celebrity actor comes on stage to co-star in the show, which is now at City Center Stage II in midtown Manhattan. There is a new guest star at every performance, and he or she doesn't see a script beforehand.
That means every line reading and every gesture is spontaneous, which gets us on the actor's side. It's endearing to watch seasoned performers do double takes at stage directions that require them to speak a foreign language or tell a personal story: it lets us see them as regular people as well as gifted artists. At recent performances, the guest stars have included Tatiana Maslany, Michael Cerveris, Marsha Mason, and Michael Shannon, and thanks to their unplanned reactions, audiences have gotten to know them in a unique way.
Every night at NASSIM is full of surprises, for the celebrities, the audience, and even the playwright himself (who also wrote the 2016 hit WHITE RABBIT RED RABBIT). But after all, that’s the excitement of theater, it lives for the wildly unexpected.