According to Lincoln Center's new LCT3 project at its slogan, it takes "New Audiences for New Artists." It also takes new critics, hence the establishment of Theater Talk's New Theater Corps in 2005, a way for up-and-coming theater writers and eager new theatergoers to get exposure to the ever-growing theater scene in New York City. Writers for the New Theater Corps are given the opportunity to immerse themselves in the off-off and off-Broadway theater scene, learning and giving back high-quality reviews at the same time. Driven by a passion and love of the arts, the New Theater Corps aims to identify, support, and grow the arts community, one show and one person at a time.

Friday, April 07, 2006

SHOW PEOPLE, by Matt Windman

Finally, a joyously funny, insanely no-holds-barred farce has arrived for the spring theater season, and that is “Show People” at Off-Broadway Second Stage.

Playwright Paul Weitz has previously made a splash with his macabre mid-life-crisis comedy “Roulette” and last year’s touching family drama “Privilege.” He has the ability to write very actable, nuanced roles for performers in a variety of genres, while always maintaining a significant degree of theatricality.

“Show People” focuses a married pair of old-timer actors (Debra Monk and Lawrence Pressman) who are asked to pose as the parents of a young software designer (Ty Burrell) while he proposes to his girlfriend (Judy Greer). Complications follow, plot twists are revealed (which I will not reveal), identities are mistaken, and a two-hour roller coaster of laughs ensues.

Still, what really sets the play apart from recent lackluster farces like “Moon Over Buffalo” and “The Smell of the Kill” is Weitz’s smart use of meta-theatricality, dramatic irony and comedic devices. After all, how often do you see characters play a game of charades with answers like “Waiting for Godot”?

So, could this Off-Broadway play potentially have a commercial future? It does not possess the cheesy marketability of comedies like “Jewtopia” or “Spamalot,” but it does provide the kind of unique giddiness that can only be attained at the theater.

Second Stage, 307 West 43rd Street, 212-246-4422, $20-66. Tues 7pm, Wed 2 & 8pm, Thurs-Fri 8pm, Sat 2 & 8pm, Sun 3pm. Through April 30.

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