“Eric Pfeffinger’s remarkable new play, ‘Accidental Rapture,’ is a revelation in more ways than one. This is the most promising Chicago premiere by an unknown playwright since Rebecca Gilman’s ‘Glory of Living’ at the Circle Theatre years ago. Pfeffinger’s thoroughly compelling new drama, premiering at the tiny Visions and Voices Theatre Company, is an original, brilliantly intelligent and laudably ambitious new script that’s not only driven by a great premise, but also is marked by that rare kind of sharp-edged dialogue.”
— Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune
“Up-and-coming scribe Eric Pfeffinger had the vital nerve to explore the gaping communication gap between red America and blue America, liberal humanists and the conservative right.”
— Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune
“The journey with these characters, and some intriguing ideas that bring the philosophy of science right to religion’s doorstep without crossing the threshold, make for some compelling theater. Especially given that, with the role that religion plays in our society and political system, there’s an odd dearth of material like this, material that questions the absence of faith with almost as much vigor as it questions its presence.”
— Brian Hieggelke, New City Chicago
“Accidental Rapture was sassy, smart and deliciously original. Eric Pfeffinger is a major undiscovered talent…It’s been a while since Chicago has witnessed a finer new work. Accidental Rapture is ‘the new work of the year.’”
—Tom Williams, Chicagocritic.com
“All of the characters have faith in their own worldview. And, in the end none of them prove more ‘worthy’ than the others…’Accidental Rapture’ manages to keep you chuckling steadily for two hours while giving you something to ponder in those moments when its just you and your God, or maybe just you.”
—Glenn Kaufmann, Bloomington Herald-Times
“While thought-provoking and deeply moving at times, the play is a comedy at heart; Pfeffinger wins a lot of laughs at the expense of both the unironic Christians and the uptight academics.”
— Julie York Coppens, South Bend Tribune
“Playwright Eric Pfeffinger lands a pair of liberals in the home of a Bible-thumping couple and lets the sparks fly. The first act — a festival of acid dialogue — recalls a quip by essayist Thomas Carlyle that if Jesus Christ were to return today, people ‘would ask him to dinner, and hear what he had to say, and make fun of it.’”
— Nick Green, Chicago Reader
Some Other Kind of Person
“Eric Pfeffinger’s new play Some Other Kind of Person, a 20/20 Commission for InterAct Theatre Company of Philadelphia, is a satirical look at do-gooder Americans who get in over their heads, in this case with the Cambodian sex-trafficking trade. Pfeffinger’s social conscience is matched by his amazing comic sensibilities, and he provides new insights into the politics of self-interest in the U.S.”
— Rick Desrochers, American Theatre
“Eric Pfeffinger’s provocative, smart Some Other Kind of Person follows two Americans in Cambodia — Bill (David Ingram), a sweetly befuddled businessman and Cara (Brenny Rabine), an emotionally vulnerable housewife/teacher — as they choose to Help Other People. In Bill’s case, this involves rescuing an underage prostitute from the clutches of Kaliyan, her scarily conniving madam (Bi Jean Ngo); for Cara, it means adopting a baby. Both Bill and Cara are earnestly confident in their own selflessness. So how come everything keeps getting worse?
‘Person’ seems to pay homage to two 20th-century giants: George Bernard Shaw (specifically his Pygmalion, where Eliza Doolittle is reinvented only to find herself unemployable) and Bertolt Brecht (in the notion that enlightened self-interest, embodied here by an ambitious young woman named Lakshmi (Nandita Shenoy), may be the only practical option any of us really has).
…the basic idea is both clever and true, and the dialogue often wonderfully punchy (as when Kaliyan tells Bill, with deadly accuracy, that ‘No man has ever found 18 years old too young. Not in the history of the world’). And for the most part, the play gets better — more nuanced and layered — as it goes along.
InterAct’s visually sleek production is directed by Paul Meshejian and acted by a fine ensemble with comic brio. The brisk pace, snappy go-go score, and sharp delivery evokes, not inappropriately, those stylish ‘adult’ comedy movies of the ‘60s that featured Jack Lemmon, Debbie Reynolds, et al.”
— David Anthony Fox, Philadelphia City Paper
“It’s a comedy (no kidding), very funny in its script and in its world premiere production at InterAct Theater Company, which opened Wednesday night.
Paul Meshejian, who directs PlayPenn, a play development project in Philadelphia, directs ‘Some Other Kind of Person’ as if it’s his own baby, just what any playwright would wish for. He stages it to bring out the ironies, and the character interpretations earn laughs as much as the script.
InterAct commissioned the play four years ago, all the while shepherding Pfeffinger through his drafts. The payoff: A solid script with a clean narrative arc and a constant tension amid the laughs. The story involves Bill, an American businessman who travels on his job to Cambodia to encourage people to provide cheap labor. He comes with a young colleague, a woman who is stunningly socially inappropriate in a nonchalant way (the excellent Nandita Shenoy), which allows her character to be the play’s truth-teller when she deals with Bill.
Because he is hapless, Bill finds himself one evening at a brothel without meaning to be, facing off with a coy and insistent madam (Bi Jean Ngo, who can easily act with her eyes alone, but does much more to make her character fine-tuned and funny). Bill ends up dealing with the madam to liberate one of the teenagers (Victoria Chau, aptly sullen). But what does liberation mean for a girl without any home or skills?
I didn’t even get to the emotional wreck of an American woman (a nuanced Brenny Rabine) who’s desperate to adopt a Cambodian baby. The plot layout may suggest that ‘Some Other Kind of Person’ is a tome overloaded with themes and cultural issues, and it’s anything but that. Still, somewhere tangled in all the laughs sits a mirror, and it’s double-sided. Look at one side and we are all connected. Look at the other, we are all distinct.”
— Howard Shapiro, WHYY
“This entertaining play finds unlikely—but truly funny—comedy in child prostitution, exploitative adoption companies, brutal dictatorships, and other issues that might stir our selfish altruism.
…This might not sound like the précis for a comedy, but director Paul Meshejian has released hilariously in-tune performances from each cast member. Ngo’s turn as an elegant and savvy businesswoman in a unfortunately lucrative trade is especially controlled; Shenoy’s doe-eyed energy would fit in a SNL skit. …There is some fine insight and strong humor in SOME OTHER KIND OF PERSON”
— Stage Magazine
“Pfeffinger’s snarky comedy works very well.”
— Talkin’ Broadway
“Infused with surprising humor, Some Other Kind of Person takes a smart, thought-provoking look at foreign labor outsourcing, Cambodia’s underage sex trade, multinational adoptions and misguided American intentions. Directed by Paul Meshejian, Interact Theatre Company’s production is pungent, funny and well-done.”
– Broadway World
Assholes and Aureoles
“It pushed every boundary … It was outrageous, and the audience gave a standing ovation.”
– Indianapolis Monthly
“Assholes was funny. But, more than that, it was smart. Like really smart. The company and the Fringe organizers didn’t play up that aspect of the show. Might it scare off the masses? Maybe, although hopefully not at Cincy Fringe. But I guess it’s wise marketing to tout instead the comedic outrageousness of any show with ‘asshole’ in the title. Stringing together six unrelated scenes, the two-woman piece explores all manner of social dysfunction. Domestic violence. Child molestation. Sexual harassment in the workplace. Politically correct identification. All subjects tackled with absolute gusto, fearlessness and candor. And, yes, with intelligence … The longest and most ambitious piece is set in a nondescript women’s shelter. This scene might best sum up the strengths of the two women, who relentlessly spar every way imaginable as Kondrat’s social worker determines if Irwin’s Pollyanna-suburban girl is up for the task of volunteering at such an emotionally challenging place. It’s in this piece that the two actresses use their height contrast to great effect. It’s also the most physically demanding of the set. Each plays three wacky, wide-ranging characters, one more outrageous than the next (most especially an Eliza Doolittle homage). It’s a great, entertaining and simultaneously hard-hitting scene. And, yes, it’s wicked smart.”
— Cincinnati CityBeat
“Suffice to say that it’s outrageous in very smart ways and that the capacity crowd I saw it with was rolling with laughter even before a word was spoken. Our reaction built and built to a passionate standing ovation when the show was over. If comedy shows had encores, I’d still be at the theater.”
— Indiana Business Journal
“A sly treat. . .the second act–which introduces their Disney-obsessed neighbors–enters Christopher Durang territory and adds more than a touch of Jules Feiffer’s dystopias.”
— Kerry Reid, Chicago Reader
Where Men Are Empty Overcoats, or Closet Chronicles
— The New Yorker
“Top 10 of 2003″
“Nominated as Best New Play of 2000″
— Orange County Weekly
“Don’t miss this show.”
— Bloomington Herald-Times
“The funniest work of the evening.”
— The Off-Off-Broadway Review
“Absurdist and imaginative…unrelentingly surprising.”
— Backstage West
“Tiny Baby by Eric Pfeffinger comes off as an homage to Edward Albee and a welcome jolt from the naturalism of so much American drama.”
— Miami New Times