Winner: Outstanding Actress in a Play
Connecticut Critique's Circle
Realise Realize Music Video
For: ZOOEY Directed by: Alina Landry Rancier
"In the role of Anne, Isabelle Barbier is mesmerizing
She nails the innocence of the 13 year old Anne, as well as her curiosity and budding womanhood as the play progresses. She realistically portrays the complexity of a young girl, from a relationship with her mother fraught with conflict, to the blossoming romance with young Peter. "
-Joseph Harrison Broadway World
The Diary of Anne Frank at Playhouse on Park Oct. 21-Nov. 19th
Directed by: Ezra Barnes Photos by: Curt Henderson
Shooting CRSHD in Oberlin Ohio
Reading for "Those Girls"
at Dixon Place
Daughters of Elysium hosted a reading of Isabelle's new play "Those Girls"
Directed by: Mariana Catalina
Starring: Jess Frey, Isabelle Barbier, and Bella Carter
Shooting: "Ladies in Waiting" trailer
Directed by: Alina Landry Rancier DP Matt Klammer
Selfie by: Isabelle Barbier and Katarina Hughes
"Ladies in Waiting" reading
The Flashbulb Project Hosted a reading of Caitlin Beitel's and Isabelle's new pilot "Ladies in Waiting" at Gibney Studios
Review for "It's Chill" in Theater is Easy
BOTTOM LINE: A new take on the millennial-relationship dramedy that examines why we pretend everything’s not as it appears.
Being twenty-four in New York City is a Sisyphean existence, sometimes. The economy screwed early twenty-somethings out of that future of two-cars and 2.5 kids, so those twenty-somethings date differently than their previous generation. In the act of trying to look composed in this life, one of the worst aspects is how often society regards our regular emotions as "childish" or as a mark of instability. When that happens, it’s easy for us to make the choice to pretend that everything’s chill.
Young post-college grads are at the forefront of Isabelle Barbier’s It's Chill, a refreshing take on the common relationship drama packed with witty banter and a wonderful structure. Sophie (Eleanore Ley with a wisdom beyond her years) has just moved in with her boyfriend Sam (Theo Maltz, who tapped into a softboy non-charm so well). Sophie wants to throw her best friend Annie (Barbier) a “grown up” dinner party for Annie's 24th birthday. But Sam hasn’t been supporting Sophie through her anxiety about their apartment and how it represents their relationship—he’s too preoccupied harboring deep feelings for Annie. Annie arrives to find that every one of her other friends have canceled and it’s just the three of them and a roast chicken—until Annie’s ex and Sam’s weed dealer, Nick (Michael Malanga who also directs the play with a great knack for orienting space), shows up without Annie’s permission.
Within the grand social argument that it’s inappropriate to have the feelings that come naturally to us as humans, It's Chill asks the tough questions, and takes the plunge into wondering when we stopped feeling and started pretending. In a beautiful scene where Annie and Sophie reminisce about their friendship, they ponder when they stopped feeling connected, and come to an indirect conclusion that they’ve been hiding under a veneer of strength, that everything is not as it seems. It's Chill reflects on the adage that the grass isn’t always greener in a fair examination of each side of the relationship coin.
Annie is devastated that Nick would show his face at her birthday when he’s behaved so poorly as a casual partner. She’s also devastated that everyone but Sophie and Sam would ditch her on her birthday. Barbier wrote Annie with a familiar vulnerability, and plays her with crystal-clear sincerity. Barbier’s dialogue is fresh: heartbreaking realities are told unabashedly, and hard truths about being a young twenty-something are contemplated in earnestness.
It's Chill has a structure that allows the play’s characters to unravel their identities, originally rooted in compelled senses of self, with a wonderful pace. Annie and her crew bottle their emotions inside, for it’s socially unacceptable for them to make their feelings known. Instead, the characters confess these anxieties in fourth-wall breaking confessionals. While this rhythm takes some getting used to, the device rounds out the play nicely.
I’m so, so impressed with this play. Perhaps, at twenty-four myself, I’m biased, but I’m thrilled to see a play that explores this suffocating aspect of our humanity so well. Barbier has such a special voice, and with its great sense of structure and rich dialogue, her play is a real winner. I hope to hear her writing for a long time.
- Gabriella Steinberg
Review for "It's Chill" in New York Theater Guide
It’s single-girl Annie’s 24th birthday, and her friend Sophie wants to throw her a fabulous dinner party. Sophie’s boyfriend Sam has been living with her for about a month, and neither is much of a housekeeper. Sam slept with Annie a few years ago, but that never turned into a “thing.” Sam’s pal Nick has been seeing Annie, but that seems to have not worked out. When the dinner party flops, owing to most of the invitees never turning up, the anxieties, fears, and general uncertainty of people in their 20s is on full display.
. . .Flashbulb has a bright future. . .
There is a temptation to pigeon-hole this as a play about Generation Y and Millennials, written by them for them and only of interest to them. That is a temptation best resisted to the utmost. Isabelle Barbier (who plays Annie and who is artistic director of the Flashbulb Project that is presenting this show at FringeNYC) has written a piece that could readily be recast and slightly re-written to accommodate those in their 40s, 50s, and 60s. Yes, it is about people closer to college than Social Security, and the themes she unveils resonate most powerfully for them, but they also echo across the years.
Throughout the show, each character engages in a soliloquy directly addressing the audience to explain various events or feelings. Fans of Shakespeare and TV’s Dexter and House of Liesknow how effective this can be, and Barbier gets the most out of the technique without overdoing them.
The actors have a fine chemistry and are entirely plausible as a close set of friends with years of ups and downs among them. Sam (Theo Maltz) and Sophie (Eleonore Ley) are a convincing couple just starting out, in a way learning to play house for real. Everyone has a single friend like Barbier’s Annie, pretending to be happy alone, but facing all those pressures women feel to find Mr. Right. The three make a trio that is of a definite type, but with enough individuality to avoid stereotyping. Nick (Michael Malanga) has a smaller part, arriving only to sell Sam some pot, and he delivers a wonderful performance in Nick’s “discussion” with Annie about their relationship, which includes the fact that Nick slept with Annie’s friend Lizzie about a month ago. Lizzie (Shimert Eldis) is given the smallest role and makes it a big part of the show. She brings champagne, is overly bubbly about her new boyfriend (who, she reveals to the audience, is kind of a jerk) and is leaving shortly for a date – rubbing salt in Annie’s wounds.
As with all FringeNYC productions, the staging is sparse since a venue hosts more than one production a day. A couch, a dining table, and a rug are all that set designer Pedro Aijon puts on the stage, but the lack of furnishings gives the start-up apartment the right feel.
Director Michael Malanga has used that space effectively, and has clearly blocked out the action with this space in mind. As characters enter and leave the apartment, they move through the aisle in the house, which I found unsettling, as if the actors didn’t have the patience to sit backstage until their next entrance. About the fourth time this happened, I realized the aisle was being used as the corridor leading to the apartment. Critics don’t always get things the first time.
If I have a bone to pick with the production, it is the lack of resolution in the plot. In writing classes, one is taught that without a conflict, there is no story. This production is rife with conflict, but these are conflicts that never get resolved. They may have been brought to light by the events on stage, but nothing ever gets settled. Of course, that makes the play a bit more like the world outside the theatre. I see the argument on the other side, as well.
One final note: the Flashbulb Project was founded in 2014 in NYC. After graduating from the Atlantic Acting School, these young actors decided to stick together to develop their craft. They clearly have worked themselves hard in the last couple of years. I expect we will be hearing a great deal from them soon. If this production is representative of their talents in the least, Flashbulb has a bright future (forgive the pun).
"It's Chill" in Time Out New York!
Little Blurb for the Show!
It's Chill at NYC Fringe Festival 2016
Factory 91 Teaser Trailer
"It's Chill" at Atlantic Alumni night
We performed the one act version "It's Chill" at the Atlantic Acting School Alumni Night
Starring: Isabelle Barbier, Mike Malanga, Eleonore Ley, and Caitlin Beitel
Fundraising for: "Incident at the Border"
Shooting: "Factory 91"
Written/Directed by: Madeline Leshner
Reading of "It's Chill" hosted by Pyschopomp Theater co.
In Preparation for Fringe 2016 Pyschopomp hosted a first read of the full length version Isabelle's "It's Chill"
Starring: Isabelle Barbier, Theo Maltz, Mike Malanga, Julie Cohn, Sara Duplancic
Persephone Dreams Full Music Video Premieres on Noisey
"It's Chill" in Midtown International Festival
Shooting: "Persephone Dreams" music Video
Directed by: Alina Landry Rancier DP: Matt Kalmmer Music by: NZCA lines
Kitty, Cappy, Gypsy, and Snake at Manhattan Rep.
Written by: Elizebeth Kelley Directed by: Paul Urcioli
Lucky Girl Full Version by: Madeline Leshner
The Flashbulb Project Presents: "Unbelievable True Stories and Compelling Lies"
Featuring Isabelle's one act play: "Guilty Kitty"
Toothe and Tongue Present:
At "Temporary Storage" BK
Written by: Mariana Catalina Directed by: Mariana Catalina and Andy Sowers