another review at theater is easy

By Gabriella Steinberg


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.

(It's Chill plays at VENUE #9: The Kraine Theater, 85 East 4th Street, through August 28, 2016. The running time is 1 hour 20 minutes. Performances are Sun 8/14 at Noon; Wed 8/17 at 2:30; Sat 8/20 at 7:45; Tue 8/23 at 9; and Sun 8/28 at 2. There is no late seating at FringeNYC. Tickets are $18 and are available For more information visit

our first review at ny theater guide

Post by Jeff Myhre on August 18, 2016. 

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).

Advisory: Adult themes and language may make this show inappropriate for some audiences.

Running Time: 1 hour and 20 minutes, without intermission.

It’s Chill is playing through August 28, 2016 as part of FringeNYC at the Kraine Theatre. For more information and tickets, click here. For more information on FringeNYC, click here.


promo video #2


promo video #1


it's chill at the fringe 

photo credit: Pedro Aijon



we are in time out magazine, wait whaaaaaaaat????


some pics from rehearsal


this is our poster


official dates for the fringe festival

We will be at the kraine theater on the following dates:

85 E 4th St, New York, NY 10003


SUNDAY 8/14 at 12:00pm

WEDNESDAY 8/17 at 2:30pm

SATURDAY 8/20 at 7:45pm

TUESDAY 8/23 at 9pm

SUNDAY 8/28 at 2pm


meet the cast of "it's chill"

Eléonore Ley as Sophie

Theo Maltz as Sam

Isabelle Barbier as Annie

Michael Malanga as Nick

Shimrit Eldis as Lizzie


A comedy set in a small apartment in present-day New York. It is the night of Annie’s twenty-fourth birthday, and she is ditched by all but two of her friends. Although she tries to portray a cool and uncaring exterior, on the inside it kills her. Her best friend Sophie and Sophie’s boyfriend Sam, who have recently moved in together, are hosting the failed party. Other guests come and go, and through asides to the audience we learn that there is much unsaid between all the friends. The characters reveal their broken hearts, romantic fantasies, and fears of both future and past. All stand divided between who they think they should be and who they really are.




happy to announce our new project

Isabelle's play "It's Chill" got into the FRINGE. We are so proud of her. We will have more details about tickets and dates soon. We will keep you posted. Here's a note that Isabelle wrote for the Festival:

"When I wrote this play I was looking at the lives of the twenty somethings around me thinking they had it so much better than me. Everyone was having better sex, was more popular, more beautiful, more successful, etc. It wasn’t until I started to ask questions that I discovered that everyone else felt this way too, and that certain people even looked at me with the same awe that I did them. They didn’t know my insecurities, so all they had as a reference was what I put out there, and from the outside it looked infinitely more simple and glamorous than it really was. The play takes place on the eve of Annie’s twenty fourth birthday where she is ditched by all but two of her friends. Although she tries to portray a cool, and uncaring exterior, on the inside it kills her. The failed dinner party is being hosted by her best friend Sophie and her boyfriend Sam who have recently moved in together. Through asides to the audience we learn that there is much unsaid between the three friends. The characters reveal their broken hearts, romantic fantasies, and fears of both future and past. All the characters stand divided between who they think they should be and who they really are. I wanted to explore why we all work so hard to hide the messiness inside, and I discovered that there are no simple answers. Yes sometimes I think we would be better off if we let our hearts pour out and allowed ourselves to be seen as we are. The other half tells me, there will always be some things that are best left unsaid. In the end we are all unkept, we are all wild, and vastly complicated. We portray one version of ourselves to the outside world, and underneath there are entire universes of secret selves, both dark and beautiful. Although the characters are not brave enough to reveal themselves to each other, I forced them to show it to the audience. I wrote this play simply because I love people, and I love their complications. Art at it’s best gives us permission to sit comfortably between the light and dark inside of us. By revealing a bigger picture of the thoughts of my characters, I wished to make room for grey area. Neither is good nor bad, it’s all in, and it’s chill." 




Link to get tickets for an incident at the border


Just copy and paste. WE ARE SO GRATEFUL!!!!!!

we have a poster



We are privileged to have "Mama" as a friend. He shared his story with us. We can't be more proud of him. 


our director

We are happy to announce that we have a director for " An Incident At The Border". Please welcome Maridee Slater. So honored to have you on board for this new adventure.

another interview

Another story. This time, Thomas Pang shares his experience with borders and what it means to be away. Thank you so much Thomas. 

"I had to leave the United States when I was 19 because my Visa expired. I couldn't be dependent on my parent's visa anymore so that's why I had to leave and go back to the country were my passport is from, which is Malaysia. I was going to go there for the first time in eleven years.
I didn't see my mom in six years, until December 2015, just recently. Six years, and that was because the plane ticket was just too expensive. I could never find the money to come see her. It's crazy how you kind of expect people to stay the same when you leave, but they don't, you know? Seeing her after six years was... It was like all the habits and all the sadnesses and all the hurt that she felt from being away from her kids-because she raised us from birth. She was a full time mom for 19 years- just kind of compounded. I think going back was a relief for her because then we just showed her that, my sister and I are adults now and we know how to take care of ourselves. She has the freedom now to move on and become more of herself."

series of interviews

As we said on the video we are gonna have a series of different interviews with people around the world sharing their experiences with borders. Here's the first of the interviews. The Flashbulb Project had the honor to get to know Medhat Aldaabal's story. His would be one of many that we will share with you. The play we are working now, relates in many ways to Medhat's life. We want to speak about what's happening now, here in our planet.

"I am from Syria. Originally from Swayda but I was living in Damaskus when the war started. I am a dancer. Fleeing Syria to seek asylum in Europe was made very difficult and dangerous by the existence of borders. I did not have the money to pay a smuggler to take me across so I had to find my own way. Because of the obstacles borders represent and the difficulty of the journey] I travelled alone to Europe, leaving behind most of my family. In Syria I still have my parents and two sisters, grandparents as well as most of my aunts, uncles, and cousins. It is very hard for me to live securely in Europe while I know they are struggling in Syria. Although they moved to a smaller town to escape the war, they are still suffering from the high price inflation of basic products, regular power and water cuts. I talk with my family everyday. Thanks to new social media, such as whatsapp, I can share with them my progress in my new life.] They send me pictures or videos of their daily life. Although it is very nice to still feel close to them, it is difficult to be so far and powerless to help them when they have a problem. Helping them was actually my main motivation to go through the heartbreak of leaving my home. I really want to make it in Europe so that I can send them money, or even better, to make them come to Europe."

we are happy to announce our new project: "an incident at the border" by kieran lynn

We just created a fundraising campaign, cause creating theater in NYC it's hard. That's why we need your help. Without you it would be impossible. Take a look at the video. It's funny and serious. It's worth it. Thank you either way. 

If you liked what you saw, this is the link to our fundraising campaign:

join us tomorrow for "it's chill" reading

Isabelle's play "It's Chill" will have a reading tomorrow at Atlantic Acting School Studio 5. The event it's produced by us and the amazing collaboration of Psychopomp Theater Company. We are so excited!!! Show us some love! 

TOMORROW, Feb. 2nd at 8:30pm at 76 9th Ave, New York, NY, 10011

If you are coming RSVP at

we are working on the new season


ISAbelle's in nzca lines new video

This is being badass... Take a look at Isabelle's new work. She knows how to kill it on a music video. Here's the link for the video on Vevo. Enjoy her magic:


"Addictions" by Emanuele Michetti tells the story of Betsy, Peter, and Annette - New Yorkers, late 20s - are not able to build real relationships. They try to fulfill their sense of emptiness using different "drugs" like sex, the internet, and prescription pills.

The trailer was selected as best trailer of the week on Vimeo. 

We can't wait to see Emily's work in it. . 

the midtown international festival has flashbulb dna

Our members: Isabelle Barbier, Emily Seymour, Eléonore Ley, Matthew Mauer and Mike Malanga are performing this week and the next one at the MIDTOWN INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL with two plays, "Fishbowl" by Ashley Nicole Audette and "It's Chill" by Isabelle Barbier. How cool is that? Don't miss the opportunity to see great theater for an affordable price. 


"It's Chill"          November 8th at 2pm at Workshop Theater NY

"Fishbowl"       November 14th at 3pm at Workshop Theater NY


Fishbowl, a play written by Ashley Nicole Audette was selected to be apart of MITF Fall Festival. It will have the wonderful Emily Seymour and Matt Mauer and also our friend Melissa Porcaro

Performance Times: 

Tuesday November 3rd 7:45pm
Wednesday November 4th 7:30pm
Saturday November 14th 3pm

You can purchase tickets for the performance here:

And if you buy tickets prior to the night before the first performance there is a discount code you can use at checkout. That discount code is FRIENDSFAMILY. This gives you a 20% discount.

We appreciate your support. It's gonna be a fun, fun, fun night. 


Isabelle has written a One Act Play called "It's Chill" and it will have Eléonore Ley and Isabelle in it. It also has the great actors Michelle Bocanegra and Theo Matty (who worked before in Terra with us). 

The play will be part of the October Event at Manhattan Repertory Theater.

There will be two Shows:
Thursday October 15th and Friday October 16th

For tickets go to:

we are back!!!

We are really excited to announce that we will be performing the 19th of September with a bunch of young theater companies that are being created in NYC. Savage Detectives, The Joust, Middle Voice, R. Mutt Society and us will be presenting the following One Act plays. 

THE SAVAGE DETECTIVES- "25 to White" by Xavier Galva. Directed by Peter Wallace

THE JOUST THEATRE COMPANY - "Wasn't Me" written and directed by Mickele Hogan

R MUTT SOCIETY - "In The Pines" by Larry Bao Directed by Guillermo Logar

FLASHBULB PROJECT- "Terra" written by Pedro Aijon. Directed by Matt Mauer

THE MIDDLE VOICE. "Coming Home" by Emily Zemba. Directed by Katherine Barton. 





pedro aijón in "the parlour" by Xavier galva

Pedro will be performing with his other company The Savage Detectives Theater Co. at Soho Rep with the original play by Xavier Galva "The Parlour". Go and support him and another young company like ours. 

justin chiao film "christian and christine"

Our beloved Justin worked really hard to get his first film done. He had the opportunity to go to Cannes Festival to show it to the world at The Short Film Festival that takes place there. We are so proud of him. 

Here's the synopsis and trailer:


Upon the upcoming school theatre season, Chris, a 10-year-old boy, is encouraged by his dear friends to audition for the role of the princess in "Sleeping Beauty". To his father's dismay and refusal to sign the permission slip, Chris believes that his hope is shattered. In a dream, the ghost of Elisabeth, Chris' mother, comes back and narrates a story from the family's past, but will it bring the broken family back together?