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, July 29, 2009
Talia Gonzalez and Bisanne Masoud confront society’s growing reliance and obsession with social networking websites in FaceSpace. This clever and comedic play posits the question: what if the conniving creator of your social networking website could give you bad advice?
Reviewed by Nicole C. Lee
When the Internet first became available to the average Jane and Joe, the “it” thing was to get an email address. Soon people began claiming their own websites and web pages, filling it with personal content. Now, anyone who is anyone has a MySpace or Facebook account, just two of the many social networking websites occupying our time. For those unfamiliar with this phenomenon, the concept is simple: Facebook and MySpace accounts link you to your friends. The numerous features and applications attached to these websites however, is what make them popular and, therefore, addictive. Talia Gonazalez and Bisanne Masoud confront this latest tech fad’s popularity in FaceSpace. The play follows Simon (Mike Carlsen) and Anne (Lindsay Ryan), two everyday people who are avid users of FaceSpace (the play’s fictional social networking website). The creator of FaceSpace is Tom, who begins the show by addressing the audience and introducing us to Simon and Anne’s FaceSpace profiles.
Tom (Jon Levenson) is the personification of FaceSpace. Visible only to the audience and main characters, he advises – or more accurately taunts, teases, and criticizes – Simon and Anne. He advises Simon to hook up with various girls whose relationship statuses suddenly change to ‘single’. He whines when Anne fails to log in to her account daily, or as often as he would like. Tom also advises Anne, who’s profile is bare, to lie and fabricate details of her life to attract Simon. In an Iago-like fashion, Tom successfully persuades Simon and Anne to make unwise decisions that inevitably lead to complications in their lives. Once this happens, Simon and Anne decide to ignore Tom’s guidance and delete their FaceSpace profiles, leaving Tom feeling lost without them.
The production requires minimal props and is simple in set design; a white screen covers the back wall of the stage on which the characters’ FaceSpace profiles are projected. The lighting design by Jana Mattioli assists in separating Simon’s storyline from Anne’s. Jon Levenson is chameleonic as Tom, presenting himself as a macho, sexist persona to Simon and then as a bubbly, carefree airhead to Anne.
Though FaceSpace is wonderfully comedic, quick-paced and contemporary, it also possesses a more serious undertone: the ever-changing and ever-growing power of technology in our lives. The breaking of the fourth wall by Tom at the beginning of the play essentially involves the audience in the story, and the story is not as far-fetched as one might think. As of yet, social networking websites do not rule our lives by providing horrible life and dating advice. For those who spend countless hours logged into their account however, is this scenario that far off? To what extent moreover, do such technological inventions go from enhancing our lives to ruling them? The bottom line with FaceSpace: don’t just sit at the computer posting things about your life, go live them!
FaceSpace (90 minutes, no intermission), part of Midtown International Theatre Festival
MainStage Theater (312 West 36th Street, 4th floor)
Tickets (http://ovationtix.com): $18
Performances: through August 1