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.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Zero is a portrait of aimless twenty-something men struggling with broken dreams, unable to let go of the crushes and grudges they've carried since high school. Despite an energetic lead, the production and the plot fail to move beyond the limited ambitions of the characters.

Photo/Nan Coulter

Reviewed by Ilana Novick

It’s another morning in the life of Leonard (Danny O’Connor, who wrote and performs Zero), a failed actor who has spent the last eight years since high school living from one hangover to the next. O’Connor is cringe-inducingly familiar as this young, wasted man: he jolts awake, grabs his water bottle like a life raft, stumbles from his crumpled bed to the bathroom, and after revisiting last night’s bad decisions, prepares for a reunion with his high school friends. Time has passed, and emotions have changed, but neither Leonard, Alex (a recent Iraq veteran), nor Sam (whose holy trinity is babes, beer, and brawling) have gotten over who they were in high school, nor have they reconciled what they hoped to be with the aimless twenty-somethings they’ve become.

O’Connor’s expressive shoulders allow him to move between characters. Alex keeps his in a state of high-shrug tension, as if always on guard for the enemy, Leonard is terminally slumped, and Sam struts around, chest forward, like a barroom peacock, ready to hit on any woman in his line of vision. But while the characters change, the conversations all revolve around how hot high school’s Mindy McPhee was, and the touching but sadly out of place story about how Alex killed people in Iraq. These transitions are jarring, especially as Alex, after all he’s been through, is still fixated enough on Mindy to be angry at Leonard for sleeping with her years later. Of course old grudges die hard, but better plays have been made about how war changes priorities instead of enforcing old, pathetic ones.

O’Connor gamely keeps up his energy enough as he switches between characters, and that's admirable, but time and again, he runs out of shoulder positions and vocal shifts and seems to be playing one man with multiple personalities, rather than fully developed, separate characters. Alone, and with a limited set, O’Connor (despite his expansive frame and expressive demeanor), can’t quite transition from bar to bedroom to airport. He moves quickly enough between Alex, Sam, and Leonard, but when he adds in monologues from two minor characters, they drag. There’s little that connects Gabe, a formerly overweight and underappreciated man who seems hellbent on compensating for his lonely teen years, or James, an artistic loner jealous of Gabe’s reinvention, to the main plot. In the end, despite well-observed characters, and the wincing humor of lines like “I’d like to MySpace all over her Facebook,” Zero’s plot is as aimless as its characters.

Zero (2 Hours, 1 intermission)
Roy Arias Theater 2 (619 9th Avenue)
Tickets available at, or by calling 866-811-4111 ($17)
Performances Nov 13-December 22, 2008, Monday-Tuesday and Thursday-Saturday at 8:15pm.

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