'Between Riverside and Crazy' playing off-Broadway

CHELSEA (WABC) -- In 2011, Chris Rock made his Broadway debut in a play by Stephen Adly Guirgis with a title you can't say on television.

The writer's new play is set in a Manhattan apartment, and called "Between Riverside and Crazy". It's playing off-Broadway at the Atlantic Theater Company in Chelsea, and the star this time is a veteran character actor.

'There are no small parts', it is said, 'only small actors', and Stephen McKinley Henderson has loomed large in 40 years of supporting roles.

So many, his face may be more familiar than his name. But he takes the lead in the journey "Between Riverside and Crazy", as Walter 'Pops' Washington.

"He's an ex-cop: retired because of an injury that was inflicted on him by another officer," said Henderson.

All is not quite as it seems, and 'Pops' is not as sympathetic a character as he first appears, though his wife died a year ago and he now faces eviction from his rent-controlled apartment.

"And he wishes his wife had survived because she had a lot more goodwill. People had more goodwill for her. They never would have pushed him out, but they'll put him out in a New York minute as they say," said Henderson.

The set is designed to show the scale of what the ex-cop could lose, crafted to suggest a big size in a small space.

"This entire stage revolves. Yes, the entire stage revolves, and we're on it when it revolves so this room will be center stage when scenes go on here and then it will revolve and the other room will be," Henderson said.

It's just the type of adventurous production theatergoers have come to expect at a former church parish hall, converted into a theater decades ago by actor William B. Macy and others.

"People can see the work so much better. They really do. They feel like they are in the room," said Henderson.

And there's no finer evening in any theater right now than this.

Copyright © 2020 WABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.