Hack! An I.T. Spaghetti Western
nytheatre.com review by Kristin Skye Hoffmann
June 10, 2010
What would a hacker do if he found out he was about to be laid off from his office job? This is the question asked in Crystal Skillman's Hack! An I.T. Spaghetti Western, a "live action DVD" of the first and final season of a "television show" centered around Dash, Jay, and Cal, a trio of I.T. friends who embark on an incredible and farcical adventure. This is a world of "Geek language and Geek situations," of dueling laptops and over-the-top screen names.
The adventure begins when, after a series of layoffs at their Hedge Fund office, an unknown criminal hacks into their computer system bent on robbing the system blind. It is clear to the trio that it must be an inside job because only one of them could have known the necessary information to get the job done. They set out to find "The Soldier," a 10-year-old Hannah Montana lover who can hack into anything and turns her boombox on and off with a switchblade (played with enjoyable charisma by Kate Kenney). The journey is full of shenanigans and I won't ruin the end by telling any more.
The structure of the show is very inventive. A DVD is popped in at the top of the show and a live action "menu screen" comes up. The key is that it's live action. If you let it play too long it even repeats itself. We are taken through all five episodes of this series, complete with "Previously On" and "Next Time On" moments that were the highlights of the show for me. Benjamin Kato has designed a simple set which consists of a long counter downstage which functions as a frame to the "television screen" that is a projection screen. The props, costumes, and even actors seem to appear from nowhere in a kind of human puppet show that has some extremely effective moments.
With all of these elements one might suspect that the production be too cluttered, but that is not where the problems with this show lie. The issues are in the timing of the jokes and the overall pacing of the show. It almost seemed as though the actors, who are clearly talented, seemed under-rehearsed. Skillman's script is solid on its own, a veritable cornucopia of comedy bits, pop culture repartee, quirky puns, and general silliness that should make for plenty of belly laughs. The lines given are always comical, yet with the slow delivery and multiple pauses from each performer many of them are sadly missed or just don't play. It could be that the sheer volume of bits is just too high and the ensemble simply couldn't nail them all.
Director John Hurley does a good job of putting the actors on different frequencies. The standout performance is Joseph Mathers as Cal. Mathers hits the nail on the head as the Clint Eastwood-esque computer cowboy who, after leaving M.I.T. must have experienced some hard living because this man turned tough. The energy he shares with his brother the cop, played by Mark Souza, is frequently hilarious and his control over the extreme nerds Dash, played with bright humor by Neimah Djourabchi, and Jay, played with appropriate malice and creepy tendencies by C.L. Weatherstone, works on several levels.
Overall this show is an enjoyable farce with loads of potential. Hopefully with a few more runs under their collective belt this deserving cast and piece can thrive in the way it was designed to.