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A CurtainUp Review
I.E., In Other Words


Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha. — Bill and Todd
We are in the middle of talking casually. —Todd
Something incidental with seeming allusions. —Bill
An acknowledgement that shows familiarity. —Todd
Ready? —Bill
Colloquial response! — Todd

A scene from <i> I.E.</i>
L to R (foreground): Teddy Bergman, Kina Bermudez, Kelly Miller (Photo: Joan Marcus)
I.E. is like nothing so much as a postmodern Hee Haw. Playwright Mark Greenfield has crafted a sly, subversive take on the role of language in our everyday interactions, starring a country bumpkin who goes to the big city in search of himself. If youíve ever seen Craig Lucasí What I Meant Was (in which the characters speak the subtext, to great satirical effect), you'll find I.E. is its natural companion.

Sam (Teddy Bergman) is a hick from Localtownsville who dreams of making it big in Citycity. His girlfriend Jen (Elizabeth Hoyt) only wants a quiet, simple life in the country, and pleads with Sam not to go. But his big vague dreams get the better of him, and away he goes in pursuit of adventure.

The story is merely the backdrop though. It's the highly stylized language that's the star of the show. The characters speak partly in "normal" language, partly in song, and partly in description: "Colloquial response," says one. "A quiet slow almost apologetic hello," says Jen at the bus stop. "Abrupt interruption!"cries another at a crucial moment.

At other times they speak in a strange amalgamation of the three: "I donít give a ratís ass about semantics, comma Claire! Exclamation point!". . . "Iíll just go and do something farcical in the den."

Nonsensical atonal Richard Maxwell-esque songs seem to be quite the theatrical rage lately, and I.E. features several fine examples, including one with a chorus of "Oats oats oats oats oats" and another entitled "Shut the Fuck Up." Similar to Godís Ear (currently playing a little farther uptown and previously revieewed) and the entire canon of Flea regular Mac Wellman, the language both subverts our expectations and takes us on a strange, rollicking ride.

Though about fifteen minutes too long I.E. is quite a lot of fun. The Bats are, as usual a fine, ongoing example of ensemble acting. Even "stars" Bergman and Hoyt donít upstage the rest.

Director Kip Fagan gets the pacing and the tongue-in-cheek atmosphere exactly right. As is always the case at the Flea, sets are minimal at best but props are used ingeniously. Live musicians provide the soundtrack, and the intentionally delayed cartoon sound effects are some of the funniest moments of the show.

Besides the already mentioned Mac Wellman and Jenny Schwart there a number of other playwrights like Chuck Mee and Melissa James Gibson (sic) who excel in this fashion for linguistically warped shows. Mark Greenfield seems destined to join their ranks.

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I.E., in other words
Written by Mark Greenfield
Directed by Kip Fagan
Cast: Josh Adler, Teddy Bergman, Kina Bermudez, Havilah Brewster, Jaime Robert Carrillo, Garrett Hendricks, Bobby Hodgson, Beth Hoyt, Richard Kass, Malcolm Madera, Kelly Miller, Bobby Moreno, Mary Jane Schwartz, and Rob Yang
Costume Design: Normandy Sherwood
Lighting Design: Ben Kato
Sound Design: Jeremy Wilson
Set Design: Michael Casselli
Musical Direction by Kris Kukul
Running Time: One hour and thirty minutes, with no intermission
The Flea Theater, 41 White Street; 212-352-3101
05/17/07ó06/16/07
Tickets $25; Schedule varies
Reviewed by Jenny Sandman based on May 31st performance
broadway musicals: the 101 greatest shows of all time
Easy-on-the budget super gift for yourself and your musical loving friends. Tons of gorgeous pictures.


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©Copyright 2007, Elyse Sommer.
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