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, June 16, 2006

The Gold Standard
by Aaron Riccio

You need more than miles and miles of heart; you need characters too. And Daniel Roberts, with his new play, The Gold Standard has them: four standards revolving around one marvelous eccentric, and the wonderfully poetic dark comedy that follows.

Is like, Daniel Roberts found an engaging character, latched on to him, and rode him all the way home. Is like, the script is full of such clever dialogue that you don’t mind the standard “man steals other man’s girlfriend” plot. Is like, the rhythm of this eccentric Korean poet, this hurdy-gurdy machine of broken words and fortune cookie statements, fuels something so much bigger than itself that The Gold Standard appreciates in value with every minute he’s on stage. In the words of the playwright, is like life is a dream for people like that, but “only problem is world full of alarm clock.” Well, this is the play that lets you stay in that dream.

Short of a horrifically staged fight scene and an all-too tidy resolution to this dark comedy, there’s nothing negative I can say about The Gold Standard. Like the play’s drink of choice, the sea breeze, all the dialogue is loose, sweet, and airy, and despite the play’s violent, bitter—necessary—second act, quite comedic. Somewhere in the midst of John getting the girl of his dreams, Olivia, wooed out from under him by his ultra-smooth former classmate, Krego, it stops being a laughing matter—even more so when we tack on the baggage these characters are holding on to. Somehow, even in the midst of molestation, Roberts keeps the script buoyant, though it takes Yasu Suzuki's spellbinding performance to bring Krego’s drunken meltdown to life.

The effort to maintain a side-plot for the bartender, Malcolm, and his assistant Nomi, is valiant, but doomed to mediocrity. The two serve better as foils, especially since Jordan Charney’s gruff, but lovable bartender is a cliché, and Alie Carey’s sassy, but lovable apprentice isn’t far off from being the same. To that end, director Alex Lippard jumps at every opportunity to get the two offstage so that he can focus on the lovers, and while this does leave a lot of empty space—the emptiest bar in the world—it also makes it clear where the action is taking place. Not that any of it’s ambiguous: if anything, Antony Hagopian (as the loser, John) and Sabine Singh (as the user, Olivia) are so believable that Roberts barely needs to fill in their back-stories.

Even if the plot isn’t exactly surprising, the way it unfolds is—all the while punctuated by the beautiful broken English of Krego: “Too bad dying human don’t look as pretty as dying leaf. Hospital would be colorful place.” Or, “My man Jackson Pollock; he say genius is to madness like flair gun is to atom bomb.” This is the gold standard: a consistent play filled with soft, yet firm, beauty. A play that can only appreciate, and be appreciated.

[Aaron Riccio]

Irish Arts Center (553 W 51st Street)
Tickets (212-868-4444): $15.00
Performances: Thursday-Saturday @ 8:00

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