Not usually much of a theater-goer, this week has been the exception, especially when it comes to experimental theater. Today I stopped by Habit directed by David Levine; part avant garde theater, part installation, Habit is described as “The Real World meets No Exit.” A two-bedroom, one-bath apartment set, with sheetrock walls and windows, what seems like actual plumbing, and a kitchen, has been built in the middle of the Essex Street Market’s Building B. For a full 8 hours every day, three actors perform the looped play, strictly observing the script, but without stage directions. They are confined to the set, but can wander around as they please. Apparently, each loop presents a different iteration of the play. The audience watches from around the perimeter of the set, through the numerous windows. There’s not a lot of action (at least the 45 minutes or so that I was there) but I did witness tension and come-ons between the three, as well as a fair amount of snacking and tea-drinking, and a wardrobe change or two by Viv in her bedroom. It feels very voyeuristic to watch the play through the windows, more so than if you were watching the same action take place from a seat in an audience. It’s pretty interesting. I’d be curious to go back and experience a different time of day, much in the way that Christian Marclay’s The Clock was interesting to experience at different times of the day/night, though I’ve always been more of a film person, so that may have had more of an allure for me.
Habit is presented by PS122 & FIAF’s Crossing the Line Festival, through Sunday, September 30th, from 1 to 9pm daily at the Essex Street Market, Building B, Essex St. between Rivington and Stanton. And it’s free!