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.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Fringe/Other Bodies

Photo/Isaiah Tanenbaum

Reviewed by Ilana Novick

In Other Bodies, Terry (Vince Nappo) is an advertising executive who spends his workdays pitching tampon and underwear ads to a female audience, and his nights sleeping with as many women as possible. One morning, after nearly raping one conquest (who just happens to be his boss) he gets a whole new view of his target audience: he wakes up in a woman’s body.

There are about five minutes of sweet revenge (now he’ll see what it’s like) in the look of sheer horror on Terry’s face when he realizes he had breasts. Nappo’s acting is best in these scenes—his eyes widen to anime-character proportions and he writhes and screams, tangling himself in his bed sheets as the alarm clock sounds its punishing wakeup call.

Aside from showing how scared Terry is, playwright August Schulenberg doesn’t delve any deeper into how Terry’s life and personality is changed by his gender. Very quickly, Terry gets a new job, also in advertising and falls in love with yet another boss, this time male. Schipp over-exaggerates this frat-boy slacker, slouching, slurring, and swaggering her way through the role. So how much of one’s personality depends on gender? Schulenberg isn’t interested in debating this juicy question: instead, he changes Terry again, after a sudden car accident renders Terry largely immobile, the direction horribly static, and the gender-switch somewhat moot.

These big changes are a little too much for a two-hander, because it prevents Terry from really learning about himself, let alone women. Plot-wise, the second act seems like a cop-out, and for all the tantalizing promise of the first act, when the gender drops, so does our interest.

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