Written by Michael Puzzo
Directed by Padraic Lillis
Center Stage, 48 w 21st St
January 11th- Feb 4th
Reviewed by Jennifer Stackpole
As audience murmurs quieted, a sexy voice came over the sound system requesting cell phone silence. What were we getting into here? “The Dirty Talk”? The set factored heavily around a massive, rusticated waterbed, dead center, with what little room remaining host to unopened boxes, a TV topped with Playboy and Kama Sutra oil, a mounted deer head and a laptop, open and ready for business: a cabin in the middle of a rainstorm, where two strangers seem trapped.
Mitch, a tough NJ guy--Tony Soprano if he were just another PBR-drinking middle of the road American--is very upset by the presence of Lino, rosy cheeked, mustachioed, and meek--Ned Flanders if he were a bisexual chatroom junky. Mitch rails and rails, attempting to hold his masculinity against this effeminate man who has invaded his trust; seems he was expecting a buxom blonde and chatroom dealings gone awry are to blame.
The fast-paced dialogue is peppered with wit and the timing was impeccable. The characters themselves, acted with complete commitment and sympathy by Kevin Cristaldi (Lino) and Sidney Williams (Mitch), were played without stereotype; in justifying their online dealings each character reveals their complexity, and a relationship of understanding develops. What brought them each to the chatroom shows the possibility of anonymous hope and maybe even healing in chance meetings. Though Mitch finally comes to the definite opinion that it is just plain creepy, Lino is all the more secure in his internet pursuits, recognizing the arena as his only comfortable interaction with the world--his chance to meet a fellow dreamer.
Takes all kinds; this in mind, I did find the play itself a little monotonous, much like a moralizing after-school special for grownups, the bullies and the bullied equally human and vulnerable. Regardless, it remained entertaining: expertly written, directed (Padraic Lillis), and acted.
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.