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Open: 05/16/12- Close: 05/19/12 Based on Your True Story
Reviewed for By: Joseph Samuel Wright

  Brett Epstein in the Based on Your True Story documentary

Based on Your True Storyis actor/playwright/comedian Brett Epstein’s newest work, six short plays garnered from interviews with real-life people culminating in a documentary about the interviewing experience.

In creating this project, Epstein targeted five communities: family members, the twitter/facebook world, the ny theatre/improv scene, and complete strangers. He “interviewed an array of people in all of these communities throughout the month of January—one person a day for a total of thirty interviews.” Epstein then took the information and perspectives gathered in his interviews to create the short plays comprising Based on Your True Story: “Runaway,” “Makeup,” “Connect Four,” “A Divorce,” “Where’s My Klonopin?, or ‘I Wanna Walk on Those Train Tracks’,” and “Huh?” These six shorts take place in various milieus but maintain Epstein’s unmistakable style (settings include the Connecticut suburbs, Tennessee, Boston, Texas, New York, New Jersey, and in between).

Epstein’s plays are presented as staged readings at the Tank, 151 W. 46th Street, 8th floor. Epstein directs with Sarah Goosmann reading stage directions. A massive cast of diverse actors is assembled including the adorable Brian Enck, Michael Borne as a stolid but undeniably appealing bad boy, the amazingly outrageous Brittany Taylor Visser, the perfectly awkward David Craig, the show-stealingly suave Sean Kleier, and the sassy, sweet, and most of all sparkling Summer Hyde, who gets the quote of the night when she calls out Darlene, a “desparate whore,” in the middle distance of her house party.

“A Divorce” and “Where’s My Klonopin” feature the two show-stealing performances, first from irrepressible Summer Hyde playing the vivacious and winning teenage Sissy, and then from Brittany Taylor Visser as the inner voice of a bipolar girl in the midst of a breakdown. Vissar is hilarious, acting out with animal vitality using her voice, face, and full body, almost making you worry about her poor, abused music stand in her grasp!

In “Runaway,” Sean Kleier and Issac Josepthal create a warm and charming brotherly relationship with undertones of a lurking darkness. “Make Up” features projections so precisely planned to enhance the storytelling that it begs to be staged—hearing it read is just a tease! “Connect Four,” about two couples at a crossroads, turns out as endearing as it is unexpected. “A Divorce,” told mostly in flashback, features a highly theatrical use of vignettes,” while “Where’s My Klonopin?” uses an equally theatrical convention as one actress plays Elsie and another her inner voice. Finally “Huh?” presents the ultimate bromance overcoming a daunting situation (and gives us a little more stage time with irresistible Kleier).

At the core, like most good theatre, these are plays about relationships between people (based on REAL people!), drawn with clarity and care by Epstein. The playwright marries humor with heart in all of his scripts, and always with a signature flair. Epstein also has a knack for translating cinematic sensibilities into theatrical terms. This skill is doubly served by the tie-in documentary which concludes the evening.

Based on Your True Storynot only invites the real lives of varied people into the world of the theatre, it also invites those in the theatre, those on stage, and the creator himself to engage with the process as well as the product and to examine their own relationship with the people around them.  In Epstein’s words, “This project is the possibility of openness, vulnerability, creativity, leadership, and artistic healing.” Based on Your True Story is about changing your life by opening yourself to the lives of others.  

Based on Your True Storyplays at the Tank, 151 W. 46th Street, 8th floor, between 6th and 7th Avenues on Saturday, May 19th at 9:30 PM. Tickets are $7 and can be purchased at

The Tank @ 46th Street : 151 w. 46th St. (b/t 6th and 7th Av