He's a permalancer -- one of the many wage slaves in New York and across the country who cobble together funds from various part-time jobs, living paycheck to paycheck, often without insurance or any sort of safety net. In the show, Lipton explains, "I work part of the time for none of the benefits." He's spent a decade toiling in the information industry, and our fearless worker croons a paean to the steady nature of office work, taking care to note the audible sighs of bored coworkers and the fate of the lonely last sandwich in the conference room. All of us want a place to go that makes us feel useful, which is why this piece is billed "for the 100%."
L to R: Vito Dieterle, Ian M. Riggs, Ethan Lipton, and Eben Levy in "No Place To Go." Photo Credit Heather Phelps-Lipton.
In the performance, Lipton reminds us that "adaptability is the key to surviving in the 21st century." It's no longer about moving forward, it's about being able to move around -- and not ask for too much in the process. But what's a man to do if he wants to stay in one place? And not just in one place, but in the city he loves? There are a lot of trade-offs involved, as people try to grasp the tiny crumbs allocated to those in the arts. (You might even have to consume a young poet or two in order to get a tiny, but prestigious, grant.) To combat the anxiety, Lipton does fruity little dances, which are worth the ticket price alone.
Lipton and His Orchestra show us that we are, in the end, "stubborn, exhausted magical thinkers." We're dreaming for a way to make a living doing what we love, even if it means that the fight never ends. If there is a better love letter to New York, we haven't seen it.
"No Place To Go" was written by Ethan Lipton with music composed by Ethan Lipton and His Orchestra. It is directed by Leigh Silverman, and runs until April 8 at Joe's Pub in New York.