Riverside Drive is a scenic thoroughfare running up Manhattan's west side, from 72nd Street, threading through Morningside Heights, Harlem and Washington Heights. The direction is parallel to the iconic avenues of Broadway, where "Between Riverside and Crazy" currently runs at Second Stage's Hayes Theater. The play, which won playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis a Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2015 and now makes its Broadway debut, mirrors both the strengths and faults of its namesake street. The story expertly cuts its way through diverse communities and social classes but does not avoid pot (or in this case, plot) holes. Fortunately, virtuosic actor Stephen McKinley Henderson sits in the driver's seat as protagonist Walter Washington and makes the 140-minute road trip an unforgettable ride.
"Between Riverside" opens up in Walter's, aka Pops', apartment. His space is shabby,successfully tattered with rust and cramped with overworn furniture by scenic designer Walt Spangler, but it holds incredible value. Literally, because of its prime geographic location with a rooftop overlooking Manhattan's gridlocked beauty. And metaphorically, because of the people that occupy it: Walter's paroled son Junior (an earnest Common in his theatrical debut); his dense, but endearing pregnant girlfriend, Lulu (Rosal Colón); and an addict on the mend named Oswaldo (Victor Almanzar), who nurtures an affinity for Walter, who acts as a moral stand-in for the boy's father. The whole gang stays on Riverside rent-free because Walter insists, "guests don't pay no rent."