If You Start A Fire [Be Prepared To Burn]

First of all, let me get this out of the way – I’m not a regular theater-goer. My boyfriend and I simply decided to do something different last Saturday night and see an off-Broadway production of my choice. And to be honest, I didn’t even look up anything further than the one-paragraph blurb on the Mondays Dark Theatre Company website about If You Start A Fire before we went to see it at The 45th Street Theater. And you know what? The experience inspired us to make it a point to see plays more often, even if it’s only once every few months. Why? Because we paid $25 each for a ticket to a show that was worth so much more.

After having dinner and a few drinks at Cooper’s Tavern a few block away, we arrived at the venue fifteen minutes early. (Of course, I picked up some of the promotional flyers laid out on the table at the entrance for my scrapbook.) Anyway, we walked up a few flights of stairs and into the waiting room, where were checked in and were told that it was a full house that night. As everyone was being seated in the theater, I was immediately greeted by 8-bit video game music remixes and the set for the first scene – which, to my delight, was made out to be a small apartment that included things like a Macbook, a Legend of Zelda poster on the wall, a Guitar Hero controller, and several bottles of liquor in the background. It’s the small details like this that already had me intrigued before it even started.

The premise of the play revolves around a young couple trying to get rich in the recession we live in. Lucy is a part-time waitress who is going to school for her MBA, and Chris is a college dropout who just lost his job as a truck driver, along with their health insurance benefits. Tired of living paycheck-to-paycheck, they come up with a plan to “sell the illusion of sex” via the internet through live webcam – and soon they’re making good business. The first half of the show was a light-hearted comedy that explored their relationship, the reasoning behind why selling virtual sex was acceptable in this day and age, and the struggles both had to go through with their paying clients.

But the second half was much darker – delving into the loss of morality, humanity, and self. It really asks the audience, “How far are you willing to go for money?” When things spin out of control, I was shocked by how different of a person Lucy had become. And by the end, you can’t help but sympathize with Chris. Overall, this play was excellently written, and the actors really had me feeling what they were going through. My only criticism is that because the couple was so relatable at the beginning, there should have been a more complex closure to their relationship and the play as a whole.

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