Bobby Lang, the local playwright, director, and producer behind Nu Imperial Image Productions, recently made history in Queens with his original play, “Allure.”
“Allure” is an off-Broadway play that debuted last Friday at Hunters Point Community Middle School. It is a one-woman show that features 81 characters, surpassing the current Guinness World Record of 65 characters.
Daria Shevchenko, an actress and model from Odesa, Ukraine, is the show’s leading woman, who encapsulates the story of the main character, Brianna.
The audience follows Brianna through different day-to-day interactions, where she encounters a variety of obstacles and difficult circumstances.
“It tells a story of a woman who goes through really challenging moments in life, being supported by friends, family, and all the people that are around her every day. Somehow, these people play a more meaningful role in such a dark time,” Shevchenko said. “This story shows how
Brianna is being accommodated by all the guide people around her, and how sometimes, one word of support can change your day, and even your life.”
Lang, who is Brooklyn-born and Queens-raised, said he was motivated to write this play in order to showcase various themes that are important to his life and artistry.
“I wanted to accomplish something, and I really like to raise the bar sometimes. During a time of women’s empowerment, ‘Allure’ shows the audience the strength of a female along with her story,” Lang said.
He added that the 81 characters was a very deliberate decision, paying tribute to the late Kobe Bryant — who is well respected for scoring 81 points against the Raptors in 2006.
Although Shevchenko earnestly accepted the role for “Allure,” she said that the script was like nothing she had ever seen before as an actress.
While challenging, she said that the overall experience has been quite rewarding.
“I wasn’t sure it would be possible to do,” she said. “But then, as I read it through, I realized that there are so many characters around us every day as we walk through New York City. So why can’t I just bring all those characters to life in the play?”
Being Ukrainian and feeling the devastating effects of the war in her home country, Shevchenko said that the character of Brianna closely resonated with her, which helped her become more connected to the role.
“The war in Ukraine happened while I was already committed to the role, and I realized that I, Daria Shevchenko, am Brianna today because I am going through terrible situations, terrible pain, and loss of relationships,” she said.
“It is a very painful time in my life, and I’m actually so inspired by the kindness of people surrounding me,” she continued, “they kept me going and pushed me to pursue my acting and this performance. I knew that if I fell, they would catch me, so no matter how painful it is, having my friends and family was something I cannot express enough gratitude for.”
Lang said that he hopes to put on a local tour of “Allure,” where it will run in various locations across the city.
He plans to invite the Guinness Book of World Records to an upcoming performance to commemorate the 81-character record breaker.
“I just want audiences to be entertained. There is a message behind ‘Allure,’ which is the strength and empowerment of women, and how a person can be beautiful both inside and outside,” Lang said. “You may be going through tough times, but if you have a support system, you can get through it. But most of all, I want people just to have the very experience of a one-woman play, because it is extremely difficult to do.”