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A CurtainUp Review
You've Got Hate Mail

I never thought I'd say this to you, but thank you. If it weren't for the computer you gave me and the e-mails you sent, I wouldn't have found myself. I wouldn't have found true love and happiness with George. -- Stephanie to Richard.
The story is old-hat: Married man fools around, his wife finds out and leaves, husband wants her back. But how playwright/actors Billy Van Zandt and Jane Milmore wrote You've Got Hate Mail transforms a conventional screwball comedy into a rapid-paced romp with a millennium twist. In this dizzying age of email, texting, and Droids, computers are providing a mask for normally discreet people to expose their wild sides.

Simply staged, three women and two men are lined up behind laptops and what they email and to whom is tailor-made to collide with friendships, marriages and office liaisons. It seems lawyer Richard (Van Zandt) and Wanda (Fran Solgan), have been heating up each other's fantasies in sizzling cyber sex talk and convening in their special stall of the fourth floor men's room. Stephanie (Milmore), Richard's wealthy suburban wife, learns of his purely digital indiscretion when he accidentally presses, "Send," zooming the message meant for Wanda to Stephanie. Ironically, Richard had recently given Stephanie a laptop and she has been having fun with the joys of email —that is, until she reads, ". . .'Til 5:00, my little Brazilian wax job. Stay wet, Richard"

Stephanie's is more suspicious than elated and sends the email to her cynical cyber-pal Peg (Barbara Bonilla) asking her what she makes of "this creepy e-mail" and the fact that there's another address at the top of the screen above hers. Meanwhile Richard, realizint what happened, sends an S.O.S email to George (Glenn Jones) , his office neighbor: "George . Help. Oh, Jesus. Help. I screwed up. I just sent Stephanie an e-mail that was supposed to go to Wanda." While the story focuses on the Richard-Stephanie-Wanda triangle, Peg and George round out the farce.

Peg is disenchanted with her dot com dating attempts, but she knows her way around computers. She hacks into Richard's office email, tracks him down at his rendezvous with Wanda, takes cell phone photos, and emails details to Stephanie -- including attachments. Nerdy George, whose enjoyment up to now has been emailing phony nude photos of Hilary Clinton, gets a vicarious thrill hearing about Richard's misadventures. He has long secretly lusted after Stephanie and eventually creates a dangerous denouement.

Fran Solgan is Wanda, the hot office femme fatale. She is heavy with the sneers, flicking her abundant hair and reading her emails (her address is "Iwandadoit69") with lusty heat, veering on the rim of lust and/or fury.

Van Zandt is smarmy and temperamental asRichard. Milmmore excels as the trim, well-off pampered wife, not street-wise but determined to save her marriage albeit with limits.

In a smooth flow by director Gary Shaffer, scene changes are signaled by dimming lights as the actors simultaneously close their laptops. Van Zandt and Milmore tell the story in email time. Their dialogue locks into the digital lingo and communicating the wacky momentum that includes a vivid chase scene without the characters ever leaving their chairs.

You've Got Hate Mail premiered at Brookdale Community College in 2007 before moving to the Triad for selected dates. Often hilarious, the usually outrageous messages fly through cyberspace, striking familiar chills in anyone who has ever accidentally pressed, "Send". The production currently running through February 11th plans on announcing an expanded schedule in the spring.

You've Got Hate Mail
Book by Billy Van Zandt and Jane Milmore
Directed by Gary Shaffer

Cast: Billy Van Zandt (Richard), Fran Solgan (Wanda), Jane Milmore (Stephanie), Barbara Bonilla (Peg), Glenn Jones (George)
Stage Manager: Jen Lucero
Running Time: 90-minutes
Triad Theatre, 158 West 72 Street (at Amsterdam
Tickets: $30 - $35 - 212-868-4444 for tickets and selected dates
The show has been running since 9/23/10 and will continue through February 11, 2011
Starts 9/23/10. Selected dates to 2/11/11. The production plans on announcing an expanded schedule in the spring.
Review by Elizabeth Ahlfors based on performance 12/16/10
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