So, I’ve been MIA because I’m literally in heaven– spending over 12 hours a day all week at the theatre. And it’s going remarkably well (check out this review from the guy that runs nytheatre.com!). If you’re in NYC, please come and support. It’s near and dear to my heart. $5 off with the discount code “laughtrack” at checkout : https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/207236
I’m smiling big and proud– what more is there, really?
Fine New Theater from Less Than Rent
(selections, as to keep everyone’s privacy, as we’re actively googling constantly)
“*** is a supremely accomplished and well-crafted dramedy that represents cutting-edge indie theater at its finest. It’s all the more impressive when you know that most of the artists involved are in college or recent graduates; LTR is not even two years old! The talent here is palpable, and it’s exciting to anticipate what these folks will create as they grow and develop.
But for now we need only contemplate this excellent play… The thing is, playwright ** and his collaborators here utterly and absolutely NAIL sitcoms. Their rhythms, their tones, their gimmicks, their tricks, their soulless soulfulness—all of this is portrayed with a savvy felicity that’s close enough to the real thing to be eerie but still removed sufficiently to function as parody/commentary. We see three more-or-less complete episodes of “Reel Deal” in the course of ***—a potentially dicey challenge that *** and company pull off spectacularly well.
In between the episodes, and during the commercial breaks, we meet the actors who play these roles. Our main subject is Laura, the woman who plays Hannah. Her father was a famous “legitimate” actor and unspoken pressures and expectations clearly exist within their troubled relationship. Plus, Laura thinks that Hannah’s character is changing (“People on the Internet don’t like me,” she worries); maybe her character is being written out of the series? There’s an identity crisis plaguing Laura, one with a strong metaphysical aspect. But our time with Laura is fleeting and our glimpses of her and her colleagues are brief and impressionistic. And tantalizing: I think I would have liked to see more of the “real” people’s stories in ***; I wonder if the impact of the final scenes might have been heightened if the audience had a bit more background.
Throughout all of these “real” scenes, a crew of five silent stagehands stay busy and in the background. Some of the actors suggest that the TV show they are making is not much more than a trifle—patently true as we watch it unfold; yet the disconnect between the actors and the stagehands is unsettling.
The play’s director is **, who realizes **’s script and the scripts-within-the-script with incisiveness and precision. Designers … all make invaluable contributions, creating a world for the play that is familiar yet filled with artifice.
An ensemble of a dozen actors perform the work exceptionally well. ** are the crew; they shine particularly in the moments leading up to the first scene in Act Two, dressing and cleaning the set to a melancholy soundtrack that sums up a lot of what the play seems to be about. As the guest stars,** and ** manage the interesting trick of not quite blending in with the rest of their colleagues. As the regulars, **, achieve something just as subtle, creating a cohesive “family” in the TV segments and a less tightly-knit but clearly professional team in the “real” segments.
This is, in all, an impressive production. ** and crew nail the sitcom oeuvre so well that I fear we may lose them to a network should some television executive turn up during the run of **. I wish them success, but I’d hate for the indie theater scene to lose them so soon. They’ve got more on their minds than a weekly helping of comfort food; this is as rewarding and nutritious a theatrical stew as you’ll find anywhere in NYC right now.