An Interview with the Author
nytheatre.com review by Martin Denton
June 3, 2007
If, by "pretentious," the Brick Theater means "claiming or demanding a position of distinction or merit; outwardly extravagant; a specious allegation; a pretext" (as my American Heritage College Dictionary suggests they might), well, with An Interview with the Author, Matthew Freeman's contribution to the Pretentious Festival, a 45-minute one-man play (with more than one actor), they've gotten just what they asked for.
The play takes place on a stage that's bare except for a table, on which sits a big old-fashioned reel tape recorder, and a chair, on which sits the title character, played by Freeman himself. He turns the machine on and the interview commences (voiced, disembodiedly, by Freeman also). It is at first a fawning paean to the unmatched brilliance of this young playwright, touching briefly but glowingly on each of the produced plays of his six-year career. There's even an obsequious questionnaire, in which the interviewer asks Freeman a variety of irrelevant questions ("If there is a heaven and if God exists, which war do you think was his favorite?"). It's like Inside the Actor's Studio on Viagra (with of course that huge literal allusion to Krapp's Last Tape centerstage).
But at some point, the author loses control of his interviewer, which is odd because of course the author is the interviewer—we start to lose count of the layers of recursion as the metaphorical mirror cracks and Freeman's Freeman splits, literally, in three.
It's smart and hilarious, which won't surprise Freeman's fans; it's also, apart from its obvious parody of the central notions of pretentious theatre in general and this festival in particular, a devastating satire of the current culture of introspection and self-flagellation. (This may not be apparent to those unfamiliar with Freeman's—as he himself calls it here—oeuvre. But take my word for it: the personal preoccupations that Freeman identifies as the main ideas of his plays here aren't the main ideas of his plays. More meta; more pretext.)
Freeman's vision is neatly matched by director Kyle Ancowitz's; the technical elements of the show—more complicated than they at first appear—are particularly well-realized. David DelGrosso and David Johnston, in supporting roles about which it would be unfair to disclose anything, are delightful.