Tune Up, Faulty Piston!
nytheatre.com review by Joshua Chase Gold
August 9, 2008
As I entered the theatre to watch Tune Up, Faulty Piston! I was greeted by three men dressed in something akin to modern day hazard waste suits. While the audience filtered in, one of the men strummed a guitar rhythmically, another fiddled with what appeared to be a miniature light board, and the third marched up and down the back wall of the theatre holding a clarinet as if it were a rifle. Not sure if I was about to watch a rock concert or an electronics show I sat back, and was very pleasantly surprised.
The basic story line deals with the idea of conformity in a Brave New World-meets-Brooklyn kind of way. While I wasn't always clear about exactly what was going on in this movement-oriented piece, the brilliant images and sounds I experienced made this trip more than worthwhile.
The cast, outstandingly led by Daniel Wood and Elizabeth Alderfer, perform seamless ensemble work, the likes of which I haven't seen in a long time. Music, developed and performed by Matthew Gliva and Drew Vanderburg, underscores almost the entire piece. Complete with several musical numbers—including a hilarious one about a ballpoint pen—the music and accompanying sounds provide a wonderful background for the world of Faulty Piston, a man who is overwhelmed by modernity and automation. While the music provides incredible sounds and allows for excellent development of mood, it did, at times, seem to be a bit much. I found myself yearning for a moment of silence so I could make a connection with the actors.
Director Andrew J. Scoville creates world after world for the audience using nothing more than five picture frames, which become windows, surgical tools, shopping carts, and—dare I say—a baby hurler (you have to be there)!
The ensemble portrays dozens of skillfully molded characters as we follow Piston on his voyage. Standout performances include a riotous defense attorney played by Stevo Arnoczy and an alarmingly perfect pharmacist played by Sanaz Ghajarrahimi. The company, which also includes a very fine performance by Alyssa Yackley, made me want to journey with them.
Though the story may be hard to follow at times, it does eventually come full circle and leaves you with things to ponder. Superb direction coupled with fearless acting and refreshing music make Tune Up, Faulty Piston! a delicious feast for the eyes and ears.