TIO NYC: Urban Stage's "The Making Of A Great Moment," (through 10/29)

Yuval Noah Harari’s “Sapiens,” a gonzo bestseller, is a swashbuckling ride through human history. A large cast of characters explores our evolutionary roots up to the age of capitalism and genetic engineering. The goal? To uncover why we are the way we are. All that gets sorted out in just 400 pages.

But playwright Peter Sim Nachtrieb does Harari one better. With just two characters he summarizes our history in 85 riotous, poignant, profound minutes in “The Making of a Great Moment – including the advent of agriculture (which Harari describes as “history’s biggest fraud”).

Welcome to our biannual cultural bath in New York City which began, as these trips always do, with fine art stops by day and theatre and dance by night. These forays are always a trot between win-some, lose-some – with “Great Moment,” now up at Frances Hill Barlow’s Urban Stages, top of the list on the credit side of the ledger. 

Get tickets here.

From. “A Making of a Great Moment,” credit, Edward Lopez.

“The principles of true art,” suggested celebrated author Jersey Kosinki, “is not to explain, but to evoke.”

Extrapolating and, arguably, to entertain and illuminate.

“Great Moment” to a “T.”

And underline “Great” thanks largely to bravura performances by the agile production’s two leads.

The older, experienced and successful (in his mind only) team member is Terry Dean, now in his 407th production. He is played to perfection by internationally renowned mime, award-winning actor and educator Bill Bowers. The innocent, younger thespian, Mona Barnes, in her ninth performance, is actor, musician, teacher Ester Williamson, always endearing, mesmerizing, and understated (even when she goes over the top).

Under the fast-paced direction of James Barry, the dynamic duo parse history and philosophy, the meaning of love and life and, arguably most importantly, the world of theatre and actors. They turn all that jazz into digestible sound bites, with fixed facts morphing into open-ended themes and variations in this masterful play-within-a-play.

Mostly while riding their bikes (on stands, a video backdrop standing in for Mother Nature).

What? And why in the world?

Because the world of Terry and Mona is “The Victoria, Canada Bicycle Theatre Company,” wheeling across the country to enlighten and inspire underserved audiences. However, en route to reenact history’s highlights in their little four-hour epic, they face myriad mundane challenges such as locating a place to do laundry, a place to sleep, managing unruly and/or unconscious audiences and poor lighting.

The mismatched pair don’t much like each other. Don’t much trust each other either. But they are troupers, crazy-glued to their profession, which is life itself for Terry; all that is vital and important for Mona.

After a day’s ride, the big question is this: despite the bumps on the road (including blown tires) can our heroes create a great moment of their own? (Note bene: electrolytes and duct tape help.)

Metaphors abound, props are minimal – two royals in robes are created from the couple’s sleeping bags – in this joyous, wonderfully heartwarming, intensely humorous, sometimes tragic (but still funny) production, redolent of Monty Python.

The message? In times of trouble, we need one another. Relating and relationships matter – all the time.



Credit, Edward Lopez.

And check out this review on You Tube. Gets to the heart of “Great Moment” quickly and easily:

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