Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Naked New Yorker Fails to Get a Rise

Sometimes, as is only natural, I allow my mind to wander. It's usually during one of those rare interludes in the otherwise hectic mad rush of my busy schedule, between appointments with visiting dignitaries, in the glorious moment after defeating a disguised assassin who's tried to garotte me in an elevator, or when one of those 60-second ad breaks comes up on Channel 10 (they were made for astoundingly busy people such as myself). And sometimes, during these brief lulls, my mental meanderings take me down the path not taken, and I wonder what life would be like if I had no chosen an existence devoted purely to the advancement of good and the promotion of positive images of Steve Guttenberg to combat the stereotypes.

What if I'd gone with my early leanings and become an actor?

Then it could have been me lying naked as the day I was born on a sweet bed in a plush hotel room in a foreign country as fifteen onlookers pretend not to be checking out my penis, and all the while I'd be pretending that the fact that most had paid money to be in this hotel room with me while I lie naked isn't, in fact, kind of very creepy when you think about it.

Welcome to Showcase, a kind-of semi-solo performance from Richard Maxwell's New York City Players. It's kind-of semi-solo because the guy in question (James Fletcher) is accompanied by another actor dressed entirely in black and invisible beneath the costume, but the other is more of a prop than a performer as such. Nude man plays a businessman lying alone with his shadow (the dude/dudette in black) and thinking over stuff. He talks us through it, but a lot of it is stuff that you think about but don't necessarily say to others, not because it's shocking or strange but because it won't really mean much to them. We get plenty of that in this performance.

And it's delivered in this curiously flat manner, part of the NYC Players' style, which works only because the actor in question has a fantastically rich and interesting voice, but fails to get you really involved in the story being told (in fragments, elliptically and very very cryptically). If you want me to care about what you have to say, give me something to work with.

I don't mean to say that this was a bad show, but it was the sort where I spent plenty of time thinking about better shows I could imagine putting on. In fact, I spent most of the way home writing these shows in my head, and had to quickly put them down in print when I arrived back at the house. I suppose that's something I do enjoy from shows: when they inspire me. But not when it's despite, rather than because of the ideas they present.

Showcase is a bit of a 'huh?' and, I suspect, will provoke a lot of a 'meh' in response. Short and sweet, it's a showcase for little more than the...interesting talents of its star (and no, I actually do mean his acting talents).

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