What makes a Brooklyn bar?
Is it the wood? Is is the draft list that features only craft beer and local breweries? Is it the bartender, whose surly, I’ve-seen-it-all disposition seems out of sync with his youth? And which of these things explains why you find yourself so hopelessly drawn through the door, night after night, to pull up a stool at your neighborhood joint and order the same thing you can’t nearly afford?
These questions form the partial premise of [PORTO], a new play by Kate Benson running at the Bushwick Starr through Feb. 4, as part of the Exponential Theater Festival. “A neighborhood bar in a gentrifying outpost of a major American City,” reads the play’s tagline. “I know this will end badly, but for now, it tastes really good.”
The “city” turns out to be a borough: The narrator eventually admits that we are in fact in Brooklyn, albeit only once, as if the city name could be supplanted were the show picked up for a run in Portland or Chicago. But Brooklyn is an easy sell for [PORTO]; the bar is a cliché so self-serious that it almost feels new again.
“Edison lights glowing,” Benson narrates. “Serious food. Serious beer. Serious booze. … You know the place.” (more…)