(Hedy Weiss’s article appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times, 3/24.)
In what is more of a total environment than a traditional set, designer Dan Stratton has taken the second floor space at The Den and turned it into what feels like a curbside, glass-windowed diner complete with counter service and leatherette booths. (The whole thing actually feels more like a place in the lower depths of the pre-gentrified East Village than the Upper West Side of the period, but that’s fine.) A round-the-clock gathering place for junkies, pushers, dreamers, losers, runaways and all the rest, the diner is loud and discordant, with fights and screaming matches repeatedly broken up by the besieged countermen who mostly serve coffee.
One young woman, Babe (Joanne Dubach in an almost entirely silent but brilliant turn) is the junkie who never quite falls off her stool no matter how stoned she might be. Another woman, Ann (the excellent Cyd Blakewell), who came to New York from Minnesota hoping to be a teacher, has become a well-practiced, worn down hooker who lives in a nearby single room occupancy building full of pimps and prostitutes.