Allysa @ 'The Poor of New York' - many people sadly experience the fate I saw on stage

What’s it about?

A revival of a 19th-century melodrama about swindling and a reversal of fortune.

My experience.

The show took place in New York during the 19th century, when there were multiple “financial panics.”

This was a time of crowded living spaces (about a thousand times worse than now) when many people couldn’t afford to survive. That led to an intense craziness. In the play, there was a poor family. The mother wanted to commit suicide through coal fumes in a desperate attempt to have one less mouth to feed. Her daughter sadly had the same idea. That’s how horrible the conditions were…

However, before any of that could actually happen, the mother and the daughter were saved by a member of an upper-class family. He turned out to be the same man that the daughter had previously been engaged to until class conflict prevented them from being together. That turn of fortune led to an amazing discovery: In an attempt by their neighbor to escape from the coal fumes that had been started by the poor family, the poor family realized he was the one who had swindled money from their patriarch long ago. However, the story had a happy ending. The thief found a way to retrieve the proof of their fortune from the building they had all just escaped from. Then the thief and the family hatched a plan to take back their $100,000, which was A LOT OF MONEY back then. I mean it still is, but I’m talking like millions in today’s money. Guess what happened next? KARMA! In a comedic twist of events, the thief became a member of the police force and Bloodgood, the accomplice of the thief Badger who was largely involved in the scam, almost became poor. Can you imagine?

While the story was memorable, I would say the stage stole the scene for me. It was this circular turntable stage that allowed us, the audience, to experience different points of view. While one scene was completed at one side of the rotating stage, there was a different scene happening at the other end. Even while that was happening, the rotating stage made for seamless transitions from one scene to the next. It was insane.

What also made this so memorable for me was the fact that, in the end, the actors came out on stage to deliver a message about helping the homeless community of New York. Many people sadly experience the fate I saw on stage in real life but maybe one in a million homeless New Yorkers truly gets a Cinderella story like this.


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