A familiar device goes rogue in this Surrealist comedy.
By Ellen Wernecke
Get the door! It’s our mechanical Savior! A man (Bryan Fenkart) suffering from an indefinable malaise perks up when he hears those magic words, “It’s your new television!” coming from the other side of the door. But instead of meeting a delivery man, it’s a stranger (Tom Pelphrey) in a flashy red suit that changes topics at his own whims and occasionally clams up, unmoved. Still, the man can’t wait to show his new toy to his fiancée (Kate Russell), who declares, “It’s not what I would have imagined... It’s original!” But does the pricey device really have the couple’s best interests in mind as it cycles through proclamations like “Nonsense is coming!” and “Love Armageddon is coming”? Seems like the longer it’s one, the less sense it makes.
Surely Marshall McLuhan would approve of the concept behind “A New Television Arrives, Finally” (Live from Planet Earth Productions), and while its theoretical proposition falls apart as the play reaches its climax, it’s good to be reminded. Fenkart and Russell make an appealing Everycouple, but the show lives or dies on the shoulders of Pelphrey, who dwarfs their apartment (and the theatre itself) with his broad shoulders and booming voice. Who can complain, relax or make out while his Chesire grin is smiling down?
His erratic nature makes the test-site humans even more frustrated, but instead of blaming him for failure to deliver, they blame themselves. And here’s where “A New Television...” goes a little bit off the rails, because once our Everycouple starts acting with the same mercurial energy as Television, the line between them fades away. This may have been what director Kevin Kittle (and playwright Kevin Mandel) intended, to bring out the hostility of the audience when faced with the destruction of its own logic. The play’s final scene fails to restore order, but it hits the right notes on the way out.
Through September 30
Note: Victor Villar-Hauser is also taking on the role of Television in alternating performances.
Theatre 54, 244 West 54th St. (12th Fl.)
Tickets, $15, Brownpapertickets.com
For more information, visit the show’s Website
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.