NOHO ARTS DISTRICT BY SAMANTHA SIMMONDS-RONCEROS - 08/10/2021
The Whitefire Theatre presents “Out of The Darkness.” Written, performed, and directed by Anthony Montes. With Elizabeth Frohlich and Michael Houston. Produced by Anthony Montes and Anagha Maruthora.
“Out of the Darkness” is a play with a purpose. A semi-autobiographical tale of one human’s struggle with their own sense of light and dark, life and death, connection and isolation. Told by a soul who seems stuck between worlds after a suicide attempt. Finding himself in a place between, he is instructed but the voice of God, or something else, to talk about certain pivotal moments in his life and be judged by them.
The audience becomes his jury and the possible sentences are to remain there, in limbo, or to return to complete his life, with no memory of his trial. A second chance to make another choice. A better one perhaps.
“Out of the Darkness” is a compelling narrative. After all, wouldn’t we all like to know what is really going on?
Anthony Montes is a gifted storyteller. A teacher, a writer, an actor, half Italian, half Puerto Rican, all New York. He talks about his childhood, his rejection of his Puerto Rican family, his relationships, his struggle to work as an actor, to keep himself solvent. As he talks about his life and these randomly chosen portions picked from a bingo drum on stage beside him, his reason for returning emerges, both for himself and us.
The show is partly improvised, never knowing which story he will be telling from one show to the next. The randomness of this construction gives the performance gorgeous authenticity. We spin the drum with him.
The asymmetry of his stories, the luck of the draw are so similar to our own experience of life. Randomness, sliding doors, fate, call it what you will. But, aren’t we all at the mercy of powers unknowable and yet so intrinsic to everything we do?
So, “Out of the Darkness” is brilliant. Quietly so. Montes seems to shape the narrative and himself as it unfolds. One might imagine that each night of performance could be quite different from another. Each night with a different outcome. This night he chose to return to his life and the audience, the deciders, chose to let him. Who knows what stories remain waiting in that barrel, a cause and effect for another outcome.
It’s a fascinating premise and Montes fits the part perfectly. Wise, slightly goofy, slightly broken, compassionate, real, adorable, and gifted. I highly recommend this show.
It’s unusual and beautifully crafted, opening with the gorgeous voice of Elizabeth Frohlich busking in the subway, the last one to interact with Montes before he leaps. A poignant touch, aching with sincerity. How many times have we been saved by a song? In my case, many.
You can find out more about Anthony Montes here: http://www.anthonymontes.com