What's Wrong With This Picture? I'm In It!
nytheatre.com review by Joanne Joseph
August 15, 2004
Opening Night of FringeNYC, 8/13/04, big excitement in the air, and torrential rain, and not-quite-ready with synchronization of sound cues, but a friendly audience nonetheless.
The premise of the play is that Russel—a young man from Crown Heights, played by playwright Neil Feigeles—tries to find the "one" true mate, and encounters a series of escalatingly nightmarish women, including a lusting "flying nun" next to him on the plane to LA, a nerdy prune who turns into a dominatrix, a bellowing controlling maneater, and best of all a lovely miss whose orgasms last over an hour. Russel's parents, of course, are sitcom nightmares as well. Mom, however, says "Later on when you have children you'll know why I worry" to her grown son on the phone, perpetually checking up on him. Here at least is some ring of truth beneath the stereotype.
The premise has interest, and, so the program tells us, is absolutely true, all this happened in real life. The truth, I feel, has gotten somewhat lost because all the characters are relegated to stereotypes, outrageous and unsubtle, and the comedy does not land. Especially, as Miss Bellowing Nightmare enumerates the twelve reasons why the unsatisfactory "Russel is gay"—the day after in real life Governor Mc Greevey upstaged everyone with his real life declaration.
Original music, pleasant and not too obtrusive, by Brian McAllister, is interlaced with the vignettes, and needs to overcome the opening night tech jitters to be in synch with dialogue, though the actors dealt well with the iffy sound cues. The various women are played by Jiffy Reed, Gladys Murphy-Ryan, Erika Sumner, Cheniqua Carr, and Karen Rousso (most of them doubling). They are physically dazzling and delicious, and sometimes freshly clever. The parents are played by Louisa Poster, who also plays Yenta, and David Thomas Crowe, whose fatherly instruction comes by way of Playboy magazine.
The stage set is commendably spare. Director Greg Vorob would do well to encourage a better grip on stage-wandering and over-gesturing, when the monologue is the central event, which, as the play is structured, is the case throughout.
Anyone high on nostalgia for schlemiels who need to find themselves, leading, at the finale, to his decision to get help, may enjoy this 90-minute journey of not very funny true anguish.