The Flea’s Bats ‘Offend’ the Audience

Written by Leonard Jacobs on . Posted in Posts, Theater

The back room at Telephone Bar and Grill, on lower Second Avenue, is long and very narrow. A play of mine was read there once, partly due to affordability, partly because the play needed a boatload of actors and the room’s claustrophobic vibe—like the walls are closing in—inspired me. The downstairs space at the Flea Theater has a similar vibe. Shallow as a Valley girl, broad as burlesque, the best plays there are those that confront you directly, ignoring any pretense of fourth walls or the distance spittle can fly. Artistic director Jim Simpson’s production of Peter Handke’s Offending the Audience has just that kind of swagger.

Handke, who is Austrian and an enfant terrible among post-World War II literary lions, wrote the play in 1966. On paper, the piece seems inescapably ’60s: There are no characters, no action and zero production values beyond a simple black curtain pulled aside to start the play. Virtually the entire text consists of statements asserting everything the play is not. Imagine each of these sentences spoken to you by a different actor:

“There are no intervals here. The intervals between words lack significance. Here the unspoken word lacks significance. There are no unspoken words here. Our silences say nothing. There is no deafening silence. There is no silent silence. There is no deathly quiet. Speech is not used to create silence here. This play includes no direction telling us to be silent.”

The actors are the Bats, the Flea’s young, fearless 21-actor resident company...

Through Feb. 23. The Flea Theater, 41 White St. (betw. Church St. & Broadway), 212-226-2407; $10.

Read full "Bat Offend" here.



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Theater Critic Richard Zoglin is Not—We Repeat, Not—A Drag Queen

Written by Leonard Jacobs on . Posted in Posts, Theater

Zoglin comes out about this, if you will, in his review of The Little Mermaid in Time. Frankly, it is quite possibly the strangest example of quasi-criticism I’ve ever read. I also understand that when Zoglin was completely done gazing lovingly at his navel, he found lint and glitter. Not a drag queen, huh? Yeah, [&hellip
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Words, Not Images, Power Aaron Sorkin’s ‘The Farnsworth Invention’

Written by Stan Friedman on . Posted in Posts, Theater

If one were to psychoanalyze the work of Aaron Sorkin, one might infer a problem with authority figures. Look at Kaffee vs. Jessep (Tom Cruise vs. Jack Nicholson) in A Few Good Men, Toby vs. President Bartlet in “The West Wing” and Matt vs. Jack Rudolph in “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip,” and what you’ll find in each case is a highly gifted underdog, with a taste for booze, who must confront a powerful, experienced bossman. In Sorkin’s gripping new drama, The Farnsworth Invention, this formula is once again put into action as Philo Farnsworth, a lowly, genius, alcoholic farmer from Utah competes against David Sarnoff, the President of RCA, to invent and patent television.

Sorkin is an emphatic writer and this play is testament to his skills in creating zippy dialog that entertains and educates an audience even if it often sounds more like the playwright himself doing the talking...

Read full "Farnsworth" here.

Photo by Joan Marcus
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Rush on ‘Spamalot’; Restaurants Saved!

Written by Jerry Portwood on . Posted in Posts, Theater

Yay! The wicked strike is dead… I mean, the Broadway stagehands have saved the Times Square chains… I mean… Well, whatever we’re cheering about, the exorbitant amount of money the Broadway strike was purportedly hemorrhaging from the city’s midsection is now all sutured up and the tourists are rushing to buy their Spamalot tickets and [&hellip
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Home on the Radioactive Range: Drilling Company’s Atomic Farmgirl

Written by Jerry Portwood on . Posted in Posts, Theater

I attend many small theatrical productions and am always willing to take the risk in the hopes of seeing a few good seconds of acting, hearing a couple of great lines or experiencing an odd moment that leads to something transcendent. Getting trapped in a three-hour production about a family wracked by death due to the country’s negligent manufacture and disposal or plutonium is not really my idea of a good time. Throw in a ululating Native American spirit with a chip on her shoulder, and things get even more difficult to handle.

Despite the many awkward, sentimental and uncomfortably long moments in Atomic Farmgirl, I left the play feeling pleasantly satisfied...

Read full "Atomic Farmgirl" here.

Remaining shows Nov. 27-30 at 7:30 p.m.; Dec. 1 at 3 p.m. at 78th Street Theatre Lab, 236 W. 78th St. (near Broadway), 212-414-771.
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Already in Progress

Written by Jerry Portwood on . Posted in Posts, Theater

If you’re not getting your television fix due to the writer’s strike, then maybe it’s time to celebrate the TV format with a (wait for it) live theater production! No Tea Productions presents Already in Progress, "a dark, fast-paced multi-media comedy about the best modern art America is producing." The production includes 40 filmed and [&hellip
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Broadway Still Dark

Written by Jason Singer on . Posted in Posts, Theater

If your Thanksgiving agenda included seeing a Broadway show this week, you might want to start thinking about alternative plans. Last night, the stagehands union and the League of Americans Theaters ended negotiations after 24 hours of talks, signaling this strike might endure awhile longer. The strike has now lasted nine days, costing theaters and [&hellip
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