74 Minutes of Stereo Radio Theater
nytheatre.com review by Ed Malin
August 19, 2011
Interior dialogue doesn’t always get spoken in a play, except if it’s a radio show and there’s no other way to communicate it. That’s my guess at the origin of the title 74 Minutes of Stereo Radio Theater, a hilarious collection of stage vignettes written by Maureen Fitzgerald and directed by Andrew Shulman. All of the 8 delightfully abrasive stories star Fitzgerald and Shulman. I think you will feel refreshed after seeing them.
In “I Have A Really Good Feeling About This,” two close friends meet on the street shortly after he has gone through a breakup. In no time they have broached the possibility of dating. They are very eloquent about the small amount of pleasure they are going to have and the lasting scars their liaison will leave on both their lives. And all of it is delivered with happy body language and tones of voice.
In “Voices,” a woman goes to a therapist because she is hearing voices, non-stop, day and night. The voices argue with each other, mainly about food and the temperature of the room. The therapist believes his patient has an entire Jewish family living in her head. But hey, over the centuries they have adapted to all sorts of inhospitable environments.
In “Meanwhile, I’m Still Thinking,” a woman answers an ad for a job as the gong striker for an eccentric millionaire. She will need integrity to survive in this strange but ultimately rewarding situation. Speaking of integrity, “The Collector” tells the story of a man who has collected the most boxes of macaroni and cheese ever, dating back to a priceless item from 1937. In this case, man’s quest for meaning is the opposite of destructive.
Some people are exceptionally hard to get along with. In “The Last Days of Qixpotnaql,” a Mesoamerican chief has sacrificed so many of his city’s beautiful virgins to the gods that he has only old and ugly subjects left. Will destroying the rest of his world really make him (or the gods) happy? In “The Essentials,” a married couple plays their usual game of listing what they would want to have with them on a desert island. The husband’s choices are not right and can never be, since the wife controls the “logic” of the game. And in “Cooking With Mom” a TV chef is trying to prepare an exotic Basque pie with her mother as special guest. Mom (played by Andrew Shulman in a wig) is thrilled to display her ignorant conventional wisdom and gratuitous bossiness on television.
This show is so deeply well written and cathartic. Even the joy of being shallow is explored in “Welcome To Hollister.” Thank goodness that for an hour we get the opportunity to see and feel what lies beneath.