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.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Fringe/Choose Your Own Play

The audience decides how the plot develops in this fun, interactive show, but me thinks it relieth too much on showgoer participation. And although there are interesting characters and amusing scenarios, the choices themselves lack creativity.

Reviewed by Cindy Pierre

Between 1979 and 1998, author R.A. Montgomery and his son Ramsey cranked out 184 titles for the interactive children's book series, Choose Your Own Adventure. Timmy Wood and Greg Hundemer bring the same sort of enthusiasm and childhood revelry (and some raunch) to their show, Choose Your Own Play. The format is identical to the book: a chapter, a fork in the road calling for the audience's decision, another chapter, another fork. However, although there are plenty of interesting characters and amusing scenarios, there's an overuse of audience participation, with not enough space between the early forks and a lack of inventiveness in the actual choices.

The story begins as You (Jared Doreck, representing the audience) takes a snooze on his "couch" (a couple of blocks). The phone is ringing and his friend Jerry (Paul Salazar) is banging on the door. So do you answer the door, or pick up the phone? Either choice leads to the basic plot, in which gunmen are chasing Jerry, who needs a place to hide out. The subsequent decisions are tied to how You deals with this fretful circumstance, but they're all generally fun and often funny, and the zany, over-the-top ensemble seems up for anything. (Timmy Wood and Alex Bellisle's kooky direction help.)

In roughly an hour and a half (with intermission), the cast romps through "Booktopia," where Waldo hides, Nancy Drew pouts, the Lorax gets crazy, Jane Eyre gets unkempt, and Gandalf the White gives "You Shall Not Pass!" a whole new meaning. Each time, three of a possible 80 versions of the play are performed, with seven actors playing over 200 characters. You'll get drunk with power from this show, choosing life or death or happiness or sadness for the central character. Choose Your Own Play is lighthearted and entertaining, and the best part is, you're not locked into the outcome. You can go back to the beginning and try again. Now, how often in life or in theater do you get a chance to do that? Take control of your destiny and Choose Your Own Play.
CSV Cultural Center-Milagro, 107 Suffolk Street
8/11 at 7pm, 8/13 at 3:15pm, 8/1 at 9:30, 8/18 at 5:15pm, and 8/21 at 9:30
Tickets: $15.

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