review by Elizabeth Devlin
Feed the Herd Theatre Company’s production of Doppelganger, a new play by Simon Heath, includes cutting edge digital and physical technology while telling a story that blends the coldness and ridiculousness of American corporate culture with a view of complete emotional isolation in urban life.
The set, a simplistic-looking arena created out of filing cabinets with personal objects – books, dolls, knick-knacks, etc. strung up in the far background, is much more sophisticated than it looks. Sensors embedded in the set itself trigger video and sound cues based on actor’s movement and interaction with the environment. Video projections on uneven small screens above the actors alternately compliment and distract from the action.
The small cast of talented actors – including the intriguing Matt Hanley as the manic risk-taker Frank – does its best with the material. The theme of empathy in the play – and the idea that caring about other people drives one to insanity and self-destruction – extends too far, to the audience, causing us to care little whether any of these self-absorbed characters get through the emotional crisis they face after a tragic accident brings Frank to his demise. Marcia, portrayed by Heather Carmichael, is his lover, who witnesses his death on her way back to the office from a Starbucks run. Jermaine Chambers is George, who watches his buddy Frank begin his descent. Metha Brown is the egomanicial, slightly vicious psychologist that George and Marcia both visit to help them deal with the emotional trauma.
The incorporation of the high-tech and the simplistic in this play serve to alienate the characters from one another and the audience. Though George has monologues where he speaks of the unity of time and the universe, the overarching tone of the piece is nihilistic and depressing.
Doppelganger by Simon Heath, directed by Emanuel Bocchieri, runs through July 21st at the 3LD Art and Technology Center. For tickets, call 212-352-3101 or visit feedtheherd.org.
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.