Procedure. Routine. Labor. By using all of the tropes of modern life, Will Adamsdale and Chris Branch have managed to tease out an urban nightmare in The Receipt, in which a man, Wiley (who is anything but wily), seeks to escape the mechanisms of the anonymous city and his box-life apartment by tracing a single paper receipt back to its original human source. The following comedy is anything but mechanical or predictable.
Reviewed by Aaron Riccio
The Receipt, a quirky two-man (and a Moog) show about the gaping maw of urban life, is the perfect show for the 2007 Brits Off Broadway series running at 59E59. Not only is Will Adamsdale and Chris Branch's show a well-crafted comic narrative, but it's as applicable to New York as it is to the "unnamed" city they are "archeologizing" (cough, cough, "Glondon"). Commentaries about oddly named utilities like the Oyster (a tube pass) are the furthest this show gets from New York life, and there's plenty of Blackberries and Apples to balance the ludicrously commercial field (throw in a nearby Bloomingdale's self-aware "medium brown bag").
Adamsdale, doubling between a short-tempered narrator and the two protagonists of the show (a man, Wiley, and a woman, T.), is the energy of the show, and Branch, who plays all the other characters and serves as an electronic Foley artist on his synthesizer, is both a perfect anchor to the show (sedentary as is he is behind the keyboard) and partner to Adamsdale. At worst, the play gets a little repetitive in mocking the inane procedures of the city (a city drowning in paper). More often, however, the accelerating humor and genial tone of the narration (Adamsdale speaks directly to the audience) make these jokes endearingly postmodern and appropriate for the 'in-the-know' crowd.
The play inspires an awkward sort of hope: never mind that T. spends twenty-six hours on hold without ever getting through; she takes a long shower and celebrates her miniature victory: she outlasted the phone. Wiley, who is the more central focus, grows so perplexed by the contradictions of his corporation that he looks to connect with a complete stranger: his quest to trace a trashed receipt back to its original owner is the backbone of the play, and leads to some rather humorous encounters in places like Drincoffee and Bar Space Bar. It's a deviously clever look at our carefully managed routines, and at the prisons we build for ourselves in the name of freedom.
59E59 Theaters: Theater C (59 East 59th Street)
Tickets (212-279-4200): $25.00
Performances (Through 5/27): Tues.-Fri. @ 8:30 | Sat. 2:30 & 8:30 | Sun. 3:30 & 7:30
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.