Thursday, August 6, 2009

New Review Posted: The Adventures of Nervous-Boy (A Penny Dreadful)

New review up on Centerstage of an odd, experimental play running only Monday nights in August at Gorilla Tango. By the way, if you do go to this or anything at Gorilla Tango, leave more time than you think you need.

Link to the review here, full text below:

Nervous-Boy is, well, nervous. But his problem isn't nerves. It's festering rage.

As he tells us in several monologues, delivered in a barely modulated monotone, he works from home, doing art direction for various magazines, just enough work to pay his bills. He rarely sees his friends and seems not to like them very much. And being out in social situations with people he doesn't know is even worse—he's prone to embarrassing outbursts whenever he tries to talk to people—especially since sometimes the people around him can hear his internal monologue.

James Comtois's very weird, very dark play, which premiered in New York three years ago, sends Nervous-Boy (Nicholas Caesar) out into 2005 New York City. It's still reeling from the 2004 election, and everywhere he looks, he sees shallow, contemptible people. Even Emily (Leslie Frame), who he may love, seems awful—constantly prattling about things that are clearly making her miserable. And then the violence starts, and things get really weird.

Comtois's brief script (not even an hour long) is very successful at slowly pulling back Nervous-Boy's seemingly charming disaffection to reveal the frightening anger beneath. (He's definitely helped by Caesar's performance, which manages to make passivity involving.) It's far less successful as social satire—Comtois isn't saying anything new, or that hasn't been said funnier elsewhere. Or perhaps that is intentional—a reflection of Nervous-Boy's own disaffection? Either way, it makes sections of the play more tiresome than fascinating.

Jamie DesRocher's straightforward production wisely lets the script's weirdness speak for itself, and the cast ably captures the misery of liberals in 2005. The show doesn't entirely make sense, and the wobbly tone robs some of its power, but it is a concentrated shot of oddness that might make you look at the bored commuter on the train a little differently.

No comments: