nytheatre.com review by Gyda Arber
Clever begins with two men, Stanley (Richard Lovejoy) and
Oliver (David Bartlett), on stage, trying to work but getting
nothing done while they wait for a message from a strange
telegraph-like machine. When the message finally comes, it says
"Keep up the Good Work," yet the two have accomplished nothing
except for playacting the success their finished work may bring.
Though Stanley and Oliver refer to themselves as "clever," it
appears doubtful that they will ever complete anything. Into
this scenario enters Mr. France (Ian Schoen), who, while the two
sleep, cuts the telegraph wire and leaves. When the two awaken
to find the wire has been cut, a fight ensues, interrupted by
the re-appearance of Mr. France accompanied by Mr. London
(Fletcher Liegerot). They proceed to put on a play for Stanley
and Oliver, in which they reenact the opening scene of the show,
Mr. London portraying Oliver and Mr. France portraying Stanley.
August 15, 2003
Though the play is clearly designed to be funny, the laughs don’t really begin in earnest until the appearance of Messrs. London and France. Unfortunately, director/playwright Eric Meyer has made the opening sequence nearly twice as long as the rest of the play, forcing the audience to sit through a mildly amusing sequence while waiting for the interesting stuff to begin. When the play ended, I felt disappointed that the London/France sequence was so short, especially after the Oliver/Stanley sequence seemed so long.
The cast acquit themselves well; Liegerot stands out in his small role, and Bartlett’s intense commitment to playing rock-paper-scissors with himself is the funniest thing I’ve seen on stage in a long time.
Though Meyer seems to be making a statement about acting in relation to life, with two sets of actors playing characters who play other characters, I was unable to deduce his message from one viewing. The Waiting for Godot overtones were clear, but in the words of Oliver, viewing the play within the play, "What’s the point?"