Short Term Listings
BOOKS and CDs
LETTERS TO EDITOR
Writing for CurtainUp NYC Weather
|A CurtainUp Review
The Name of This Play is Talking Heads
By Amanda Cooper
No, it's not about the band the Talking Heads, or their similarly named album --or David Byrne for that matter. But this play (much like Byrne et. al deciding to entitle their album The Name of this Band is Talking Heads) is an attempt at a commentary on our pop-obsessed culture. Unfortunately, the production does not bring much enlightenment to this topic, except for providing a theory on how the hordes of music countdown shows are synthesized.
Pete is an uptight, intellectually-edged music journalist. As the show opens, he is being primped for his rookie appearance on a music countdown show, "Top 100 Most Rockatrocious Moments in Rock History." He is nervous, excited, and then quickly disgusted by how the producers simply feed the commentators their lines. When he decides to speak his own mind and stand his ground, he quickly discovers that this is easier thought than done, as the producer is willing to go surprisingly far in order to preserve his corrupt system.
Playwright Marc Spitz has written surprisingly one-dimensional characters who are also not entertaining exaggerations. His writing does show skill he has captured speech patterns that are potentially funny and even accurate, but these naturalistic lines are performed too purposefully and without a flavor for our static, and even repetitive nature of speaking. Director Andy Goldberg has not come to the rescue. The forced nature present in voice carries through to the movements and interactions onstage. This may be why the funniest, most successful performance of the night comes from Brian Normant, who as Stiv, the video technician, spoke little and stirred even less.
Brian Reilly as our hero Pete rates an "A" for effort, but rooting for him is hard, as his lame (though amusingly awkward) attempt at bagging vapid makeup gal Dolly shows his own hugely superficial side. Valerie Clift as Dolly has mastered the art of having breasts pushed up to her eyeballs while still maintaining an expression of (doubtful) innocence, but her comic timing is lacking. Matt Higgins as the obnoxious comedian Frankie is justly loud and inappropriate, but is a grating presence nonetheless. Tom, played by James Eason is the Rockatrocious producer who not-so-easily embodies the asshole producer he portrays.
Though the play ends on a sardonic note, it goes a step too far, with the last beat pushing the play too suddenly into the ridiculous and leaving little open-ended. Unfortunately, for a production that is supposedly a commentary, making the story-line in a naturalistic show a closed case leaves little to be pondered, and not much that sticks in the mind.
Easy-on-the budget super gift for yourself and your musical loving friends. Tons of gorgeous pictures.
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
Click image to buy.
At This Theater
Leonard Maltin's 2005 Movie Guide
Ridiculous!The Theatrical Life & Times of Charles Ludlam
6, 500 Comparative Phrases including 800 Shakespearean Metaphors by CurtainUp's editor.
Click image to buy.
Go here for details and larger image.