A drama critic who spends most of his evenings covering Broadway and off-Broadway openings tends to forget that most of the plays being staged in New York on any given night are performed in tiny little theaters consisting of a ratty lobby, a smallish rectangular performance space whose ceiling, walls, and floor are painted black (hence the name “black-box theater”), and an even smaller backstage area (often indistinguishable from the hall). Such places are typically situated on blocks so unfashionable that you look twice at your appointment book to be sure you’ve come to the right place. Then you climb up a flight or three of stairs, settle into a creaky old theater seat, and wait to see what happens next. Often it’s painfully earnest. Sometimes it’s downright awful. Every once in a while, though, the black box turns into a time machine in which you spend an hour or two exploring a parallel universe of the imagination, and when the lights come up again, you remember why you love theater, and why the waitress who served you brunch in between callbacks loves it, too….
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