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A CurtainUp Review

By Jenny Sandman

Keri  Meoni  &   Dan Roach
Keri Meoni & Dan Roach (Photo: Jonathan Slaff)
Styrofoam begins auspiciously with a bare stage centered by a big yellow frame through which we see a sign that reads, "A Grand View of the Manhattan Skyline From a Very High Elevation." Such a beginning seems to signal a funny play, or at least a subversive play. Unfortunately, Styrofoam is neither.

The play revolves around moving day for Christopher, a New York executive. His movers are two buffoons with exaggerated Popeye-like muscles and gratingly fake Cockney accents. They speak and move almost in slow motion. When Christopher's girlfriend Jessica comes in, they settle down to read the Sunday Times while the movers do their work, bringing in boxes and boxes of what seem to be expensive electronics, luxury items and high-end appliances. What the boxes are really filled with is bits s of styrofoam which they proceed to dump all over the stage in growing piles of styrofoam peanuts.

Throughout all this Christopher and Jessica keep perusing the paper for new musicals and full-page full-color fashion and car ads while blatantly ignoring most of the news--except for the Sports and the Business sections. They are drawn to anything with color and flash and thus the styrofoam becomes a handy metaphor for their vapid, consumerist lives.

Finally we see styrofoam peanuts rain down while the movers just shovel it in. It fills up the apartment just as they are allowing their lives to be filled up nothing of value.

Keri Meoni as Jessica is utterly believable in her flightiness. Since flighty people do have a tendency to quickly become tiresome, kudos to her for maintaining such a character. Dan Roach as Christopher is the best of the foursome; the movers try to do a good job with the enervated material, but theirs is a lost cause.

Though playwright Kevin Doyle takes pains to separate Styrofoam from absurdism, he needn't worry. The play is less an homage to absurdism than to bad cartoons and superficiality. We get the point of the play almost immediately; most of it is spent hammering home what we've already inferred. A large chunk of the script could easily be cut. Moreover, it moves slowly, prolonging what should be a gallop to the rather (intentionally) repulsive ending.

Written by Kevin Doyle
Directed by Brian Snapp
With Varick Boyd, Keri Meoni, Dan Roach and Patrick Shefski
Assistant Director: Darin Sergent
Technical Director: Manny Bocchieri
Running time: 1 hour and fifteen minutes with no intermission
Feed the Herd Theatre Company, The Trilogy Theatre, 341 West 44th Street, 2nd Floor; 212-489-1632
Opened January 9, 2004 -- to February 21, 2004
Reviewed by Jenny Sandman based on February 10th performance

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