Sections

Head into ‘Porto’: Play about hipster barflies way better than you’d expect

for Brooklyn Paper
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook
Subscribe

Get our stories in your inbox, free.

Like Brooklyn Paper on Facebook.

It’s a locally-sourced, artisanally made delight!

The new play “[Porto,]” now playing at the Bushwick Starr, has all of the elements that could make it an insufferable millennial romantic comedy. It is set in a mid-hyper-gentrification Brooklyn neighborhood, at a bar that used to be a medical supply store, lit by Edison bulbs and presided over by a foodie bartender with a neck tattoo who serves pickled pomegranates and bacon-wrapped foie gras, and who judges his customers’ orders. It could be, in playwright Kate Benson’s brilliant coinage, “boushy” — bourgeois, and also douchey. (Or even just straight-up douchey.)

Instead, it is witty, thoughtful, and sweet, an intimate charmer that knows it can’t avoid romantic comedy cliche entirely, and so embraces and repurposes the genre with clear-eyed affection for its characters, an eloquent narrator, a bracing dose of philosophy, and an occasional foray into the surreal.

The titular Porto (Julia Serna-Frest) is a classic rom-com sidekick: a zaftig woman with romantic disaster behind her, building her identity one solo drink at the neighborhood bar, one harmless flirtation with Raphael the waiter (Ugo Chukwu), and one good book (with a spare always in her bag) at a time.

Her friend Dry Sac (Leah Karpel) is the girl guys like: stunning, self-absorbed, more than a little obnoxious. Porto doesn’t want to be lonely, or afraid, but she is. Dry Sac probably doesn’t want to be annoying, but she is.

So when sexy bearded hipster Hennepin (Jorge Cordova) starts hanging out at the bar, the ensuing love triangle seems inevitable. Fortunately, “[Porto]” has a few more tricks up its sleeve.

It is a tightly structured play given its simplicity, with layered themes, well-managed tone shifts, and a rousing feminist debate over the soul of its heroine, along with an entertaining chorus of Dumb Bunnies — human-sized, male dumb bunnies.

Playwright Benson appears in the show as the “lesser god” who owns the bar and narrates the piece. She and director Lee Sunday Evans steer the cast through dangerous waters, avoiding both chirpy optimism and morose navel-gazing; offering grounded cynicism but not knee-jerk snark; and with a dash of whimsy without a hint of twee. This heartfelt show has some close shaves, but it makes the right call every time.

“[Porto]” at the Bushwick Starr [207 Starr St. between Wyckoff and Irving avenues in Bushwick, www.thebushwickstarr.org]. Wed–Sat at 8 pm through Feb. 4. $20.

Updated 12:02 pm, January 20, 2017
Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook
Subscribe

Get our stories in your inbox, free.

Like Brooklyn Paper on Facebook.

Reasonable discourse

Samir Kabir from downtown says:
Way better?
Jan. 27, 5:45 pm

Enter your comment below

By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:

You agree that you, and not BrooklynPaper.com or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to BrooklynPaper.com the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

First name
Last name
Your neighborhood
Email address
Daytime phone

Your letter must be signed and include all of the information requested above. (Only your name and neighborhood are published with the letter.) Letters should be as brief as possible; while they may discuss any topic of interest to our readers, priority will be given to letters that relate to stories covered by The Brooklyn Paper.

Letters will be edited at the sole discretion of the editor, may be published in whole or part in any media, and upon publication become the property of The Brooklyn Paper. The earlier in the week you send your letter, the better.

Don’t miss out!

Stay in touch with the stories people are talking about in your neighborhood:

Optional: Help us tailor our newsletters to you!