Intensity Rising in Marc Spitz's New York

It is easy to understand why there are not hoards of people in the audience: his latest offering, P.S. It’s

'P.S. It's Poison', September 8-17, 2011, is directed by Arthur Aulisi.

It is easy to understand why there are not hoards of people in the audience: his latest offering, P.S. It’s Poison, which opens today at The Red Room on East 4th Street, is gritty and uncompromising like the music industry and theater scene Spitz mourns, and sees a return to the gun, bag of heroin, and sexual confusion of his first few plays. It explores the tensions of relationships and of ageing at a dinner party of five artsy friends of varying talent, success and self-centeredness. And a ditsy, younger plus one from out of town who is out of place and out of her depth. Similar to how Spitz feels in the new New York he now lives in.

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It is spatially dense, set in a one-bedroom apartment in Lower Manhattan, perhaps not far from the theater it is performed in. New York references – to The Observer, no less – abound, and the kind of inward-looking conversations of close friends – the ones that are hard for any outsider to follow – dominate. For all their linguistic adroitness, they don’t use it kindly; there is a lack of sympathy among the characters which terrifies.

Spitz admitted it is angry, but, he said, “There’s a certain musicality to it; I wanted a sort of escalation where literally there’s bodies on the floor at the end.”

It’s funny, too, in a Beckettian apathy sort of way. The opening scene revolves around a long-winded, anti-climactic story about how one of the characters, Roth, saw a fisherman on the Hudson who catches a fish but doesn’t kill it, leaving it gulping for air beside him as it dies. Roth looks on, doing nothing.

“You pussed on the fish”, his friend Ozone later tells him.

The scene resonated with Spitz as he admitted, “I’m that guy. I pussed on the fish.”

Whatever the fish may symbolize, it is not Spitz’s indifference to his writing. In the play, Ozone insists that writing doesn’t have to be a life choice.

“Part of me hopes that it’s not true,” Spitz said. “It’s definitely a harder life, a lonelier life.”

Intensity Rising in Marc Spitz's New York