Summer interns scrap and snarl in this reality-show farce.
BY ELLEN WERNECKE
There’s no question that reality TV has perverted the traditional sense of what it means to be an intern. It may surprise regular viewers that interns don’t typically get sent to Paris, and they usually aren’t forced to play camp games with their fellow free laborers to test their teamwork skills. So the scenario envisioned by the new play “Interning” is hardly outlandish: Why wouldn’t a 21st-century intern suspect that an indentured summer assembling gift bags and brainstorming for a PR giant is secretly being filmed and thus her entrée to stardom in our time?
That’s Alisha (Jenna Pace), a former Miss New Jersey and one of four summer interns working for the slimy Ron Olden (Ryan Andes). Joining her is a wannabe actress (Kristen Howard), the gayest straight man around (Anderson Lim) and London everygirl Marta (Nadia Owusu, who also wrote the play), who lounge around in their holding room waiting for their boss to page them a la “Charlie’s Angels.” But Alisha’s conviction that there’s a hidden camera causes her to act in ways that would be perfectly acceptable on reality TV and absurdly improper in life. Even the calming influence of Carl Bella Carmichael (Michael Galyon), Ron’s assistant and an acting legacy in his own right who claims not to use his family connections at all, can’t constrain her desperation to win.
Owusu’s script takes too long to unwind, but once it gets going the comedic performances prove capable of holding it aloft. The blocking helps: Director Rye Mullis uses a pen of chairs to strand the interns on center stage for most of the show, making their own tension contagious. Lim’s play on stereotype as a man who's gay and doesn't know it is pretty tired, but Andes’ take on the creepy boss is surprisingly original in the sneering way he presides over his clueless underlings. And Galyon’s monologues paired with a thousand-yard stare steal the show.
“Interning,” part of the Midtown International Theatre Festival, runs through August 3 at Where Eagles Dare (347 W.36th St.). For more information, visit Midtownfestival.org
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