Seamless Accessibility in ‘I Ought to Be in Pictures’ at Theatre Row: A Review

seamless accessibility

Neil Simon’s heartwarming play, “I Ought to Be in Pictures,” has been brought to the off-broadway stage by the accessible theatre company, Theater Breaking Through Barriers (TBTB). The play explores the relationship between father and daughter, Herb and Libby, after Herb walked out on the family 16 years earlier. Despite barely remembering her father, Libby comes to Herb’s home in Los Angeles with a big ask. Herb must rise to the challenge of fulfilling his role as a father, as a screenwriter, and as a better partner to his girlfriend, Steffy. 

seamless accessibility Directed by TBTB’s artistic director, Nicholas Viselli, TBTB’s production at Theatre Row has made it their goal to be performed in a manner as accessible as possible for all audience members. When the show begins, a voice-over description of the set, costumes, and appearances of actors is played over the speakers, to assist visually impaired audience members in fully immersing themselves into the world of “I Ought to Be in Pictures.” Voice-overs are used a couple of other times throughout the play, such as when a costume change or set change is made. The descriptions indirectly give hints to audience members as to what to pay attention to – Libby’s height, Herb’s decor, and the new decor added for the second act. The play is also accompanied by subtitles projected onto the set, and low lighting in the house throughout the performance, as opposed to a blackout in the audience.

seamless accessibility The cast of the production has an intimate chemistry, which is emphasized by only having three characters in the show. Following his Broadway feature in “Death of a Salesman,” Chris Thorn brings out the lovable side of a frustrating, yet goofy, Herb. His dynamic with Makenzie Morgan Gomez, who plays Libby, is endearingly complicated. Gomez makes her off-broadway debut playing a bold and confident Libby. A new light is brought to the character as she moves around with a wheelchair and cane – a quality of the actress that seamlessly fits into the production. Libby’s defiance of her family circumstances is enhanced by her disability; Gomez brings a sense of determination to the role. Pamela Sabaugh, as Steffy, plays a sort of motherly figure to both characters, offering advice to Herb and Libby through their conflicts. Her presence on stage is positively natural. 

The attention to detail in the production brings the audience back to 1980 Hollywood. Between scenes, the audience can hear faint 70s rock hits playing, and the backdrop of the set offers a view of the Hollywood sign. Libby enters the stage as a born and raised New Yorker, and is offset by how her father is not living the glamorous Hollywood life she expected. She slowly brings color to the stage by adding pop-art pieces and colorful decor for the second act. 

seamless accessibility “I Ought to Be in Pictures” at Theatre Row offers a homey, slice-of-life production, while still engaging the audience with a complex range of familial and lovers’ quarrels. Audiences still have a chance to see this Theater Breaking Through Barriers play through May 25th.

Get tickets online HERE.

And read other recent theatre reviews HERE.

Katrina Carlyle
Katrina Carlyle

Katrina Carlyle is currently enrolled as a sophomore at Hunter College, where she is majoring in Theatre. Hailing from Toronto, Canada, she is interested in all things art and media, which is what drew her to NYC. She is pursuing acting, but tries to dip her toes in other creative areas when she can. Katrina is a radio broadcaster at Hunter College’s radio station, WHCS, and is directing an original play for Hunter’s undergraduate play festival. She values community and hopes to build a community through the arts anywhere she can. Additionally, she is a member of Beauty News NYC's theatre writing program for New York City college students, Student Scene.