The Gym at Judson
243 Thompson St. at Washington Square South
Through August 3, $18
Jay Stull is having quite a summer. First he directed the Amoralists’ exceptional version of Mark Roberts’s Rantoul and Die at the Cherry Lane, and now he has made his very impressive debut as a playwright with the The Capables, an insightful, darkly comic show about family and hoarding that continues at the Gym at Judson through August 3. Twenty-something southerner Jessy Capable (Katie Eisenberg) has had it with the endless collection of toys, games, stuffed animals, and other oddball keepsakes stockpiled by her God-fearing mother, Anna (Dale Soules); hundreds and hundreds of these items have been turned into mountainous elements that dominate the creative set designed by George Hoffmann and Greg Kozatek. “Even weak people come to they breakin’ points, and I done warned you enough that I’m well past mine,” Jessy yells at her mom. Meanwhile, Jessy’s father, the nearly blind Jonah Capable (Hugh Sinclair), spends most of his time trying to find his way to the bathroom and pontificating about his desire for the McRib sandwich. To stop her mother’s hoarding, the sheltered Jessy has invited in a reality TV program, including therapist Jenny Bragg Marcus, MSW (Jessie Barr), soundman Mike (David J. Goldberg), cameraman Tommy (Micah Stock), and producer David (Charles Browning), who is determined to get a good story no matter the personal cost. As the film crew keeps on digging for details of the severely dysfunctional and private Capable family past, Jessy starts discovering that there might be a better future out there for her, but first some very hard truths are going to have to emerge, on camera for everyone to see. The Brooklyn-based Stull, who is the literary manager for the Amoralists, employs sharp dialogue and strong characterization to wonderfully capture the essence of this awkward family hiding a secret. Director Stefanie Abel Horowitz (1927, Walt Disney and the Invention of the Human) inventively uses the complex set, with the actors sitting in unique ways and weaving through narrow spaces that could symbolize neural pathways of the brain. Soules is excellent as the matriarch who refuses to see her hoarding as a problem, but the show’s heart and soul is embodied by Eisenberg’s honest depiction of Jessy and Stock’s tender take on Tommy, even if their second-act-opening scene goes on too long. The Capables is a splendid debut about the things one collects in life, both physical and psychological, performed by a fine cast and written by an emerging talent who is well worth keeping an eye on.