The Echoes Off The Walls Underground Are Louder Than Your Footsteps Above Me
nytheatre.com review by Martin Denton
November 4, 2012
Anthony Nikolchev says that his new solo piece The Echoes Off the Walls Underground Are Louder Than Your Footsteps Above Me is for "the jobful and the jobless." It's an apt characterization: this remarkable play—half physical performance, half haunting lyrical monologue—is an ode to the un(der)employed Millennial. Where Willy Loman was tragic because his life finally amounted to nothing despite what he believed and did, the unnamed protagonist of this play is tragic because he's discovering he's amounting to nothing before he even gets a chance to do or become anything. It's shockingly timely.
In Echoes, which Nikolchev wrote (with his text inspired by works of Witkiewicz, Dostoevsky, Bukowski, and Arthur Miller), we meet an earnest young man who is a "private contractor" for a communications conglomerate. His assignment is to tackle customers at an electronics store (Best Buy or some such) and try to talk them into signing a contract for a new satellite TV system. The challenge is that these customers have come here to buy something else; as Nikolchev notes in the blurb about his play, he's "selling what people don't need in a time when people have nothing."
In 50 deft, breathless minutes, Nikolchev tracks the diminution of this man as this thankless job wears him down and as his personal economy dissolves. In a performance of astonishing physicality, Nikolchev shows us this man self-destructing from the inside out. We observe him at work, where his sales patter grows less assured and more desperate; and at home, in an apartment that's at least figuratively in a cellar if not literally so. With directors Yuriy Kordonskiy and Matej Matejka, Nikolchev creates an ambiance of aloneness that's palpable.
Echoes marks Nikolchev's second consecutive appearance at the United Solo Festival. (His award-winning 2011 show, Look, What I Don't Understand, is featured on Indie Theater Now.) Unfortunately this show's run in NYC is over for the moment, but hopefully it will be seen in many other cities soon. Nikolchev's talent as writer and actor is formidable, and I am looking forward to whatever new projects may be on the horizon for him.