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.

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Footage

Two groups of friends find themselves caught up in the world of viral videos and must ask themselves how far they can let themselves go before losing touch with reality. Can they give up their vices before it's too late?

Photo/Joan Marcus

Reviewed by Caitlin Fahey

Have you heard of LonelyGirl15? Have you seen Law and Order SVU or If so, The Footage won’t be particularly eye-opening. For all the impressively quick-witted dialogue, the play seems all too familiar, and we already know from reality TV that America has become a nation of voyeurs who don’t need talent to make it big as a celebrity.

The Footage’s dialogue is natural, provocative, and contemporary, which should appeal to today’s generation of YouTube-watching, virtual-reality-loving gamers. The cast does well to draw the audience into a world that may or may not be real. The only problem is that, in today’s oversaturated world, the plot may be played out.

The Footage chronicles the lifestyles of two groups of twenty-somethings. Roommates Lauren, Alexa, and Delilah shelter bootcamp-runaway JC and upload viral videos to the web every night to chronicle the kidnapping and torture of Delilah. Alexa studies literature and flirts with JC while Delilah performs self-mutilation with paper-clips and wracks her brain for new gimmicks to bring more hits to her posts. Lauren is perhaps the most distraught over Delilah’s behavior, and seeks solace in the virtual world of MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games).

Across the country, buddies Dodge, Ethan, and Chance, along with Chance’s girlfriend Maya, are drawn into the world of “Lilah1617.” Chance and Ethan quickly become obsessed with the posts and scour the videos for hours, looking for a clue that will deem Lilah’s encounters either real or fake. Disgusted by their behavior, Maya finds her inspiration to write again after a lengthy bout of writer’s block, and begins a blog. Ironically, Maya’s blogging ultimately makes her just as much an addict as Ethan and Chance. Dodge remains the least affected by Delilah’s postings which allows him to get to closer to Maya as Chance drifts deeper into a virtual world comprised of mysterious footage.

Erin Elizabeth Murphy’s costumes are wholly believable, right down to the ironic stoner T-shirts, and Adrian W. Jones has designed an intimate space that fits the themes of the show. As the characters watch the footage, the audience closely observes the characters, which raises the question: when do we move from voyeurs to prisoners? Is it worse to watch, or to watch those who are watching? If U.S. citizens will watch terrorist beheadings for fun, at what point does live murder become unacceptable?

Along with Room404’s video design, these effects craft a real world that nicely balances the fantasies that the play calls into question. Director Claudia Zelevansky does a fine job of combining these creative elements to blur the line between the candid and the scripted, the “real world” and the realm of fantasy; however, it’s so real that it’s been done before.

THE FOOTAGE (90 minutes, no intermission)

FLEA THEATER (41 White Street)


Performances (through 11/30): Friday and Saturday 7:00; Sunday 3:00

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