Presented by PlayCo and Clubbed Thumb, Sarah Einspanier's Lunch Bunch begins its Off-Broadway run at 122CC, Second Floor Theatre March 15. Performances for the play, which stars Louisa Jacobson of HBO's Broadway-studded period drama The Gilded Age, will play through April 8.
Lunch Bunch is based on the real-life Bronx Defenders' lunch-sharing group, which Einspanier first heard about from a friend. The play explores how the characters cope with the systems that threaten their clients, and how lunch becomes a focus point for expressing care, competitiveness, and other feelings that can't be expressed. The script has almost no stage directions as Einspanier makes use of font sizes, codified punctuation, and spacing to layer the characters in moments of chaos and enforce moments of stillness.
The cast stars, in addition to Jacobson, Janice Amaya (Shhhh, Mushroom), Tala Ashe (English, The Vagrant Trilogy), Ugo Chukwu (Oklahoma!, What To Send Up When It Goes Down), David Greenspan (Dead Mother, She Stoops to Comedy), Francis Mateo (Love to Love You Baby, Mother Courage), Jo Mei (Anatomy of a Suicide, The Great Wave), and Julia Sirna-Frest ([Porto], The Offending Gesture).
“This is a show about mutual care, about how we need people," explained Einspanier in an earlier statement. "What can we learn from these public defenders who are fighting against and within a system that seems to resist all attempts at change? What can their struggles, in their specific circumstances, teach us about our own? How might we combat the chaos of living? And in the process, embrace our own and one another’s absurdity, avoidance, obsession, and hunger as part of what makes us human.”
Tara Ahmadinejad directs the production which will feature set design by Jean Kim, costume design by Alice Tavener, lighting design by Oona Curley and Domino Mannheim, and sound design by Ben Vigus. Casting is by Stephanie Yankwitt and original casting is by Clubbed Thumb.
Ahmadinejad said, “Sometimes I feel like I’m working with a sports team; it's very challenging to perform. The actors have to work together as a team and rely on each other, while also evoking a sense of hunger and competition among them. This speaks to the lawyers’ experience, their striving in an inhospitable system to help their clients, their mutually supportive yet competitive lunch making, and the overall attempt to find balance and meaning in their lives.”
Einspanier first developed the play at Clubbed Thumb's Winterworks and Summerworks in 2019.