nytheatre.com review by Danielle Duvall
Upon arrival at Strange Weather Theatre Company‘s Selling Out, you
might be offered one of a myriad little toy trinkets—anything to keep
you there, hence their point. Selling Out, a new play by Stephen
Horvat, is composed of three vignettes, each focusing on the various
ways we sell our souls for the sake of societal approval,
acknowledgement and, most importantly in this case, commercial success.
August 15, 2002
Of the three vignettes, the first works best. Joe Hickey and Katie Jay are exceptionally funny as slick, good-cop-bad-cop Disney ambassadors, out to claim another victim for mediocrity and the status quo. With Hickey and Jay on task, no tactical stone is unturned and it’s wrong-in-the-head hilarious. That said, Horvat’s writing, while at times somewhat clever and witty, lacks real depth; this piece feels more like a comedy sketch than a play.
The other vignettes take us into two very limited, pseudo-intellectual and desperate theatre-wannabe worlds. Neither piece offers much in the way of an interesting hook to help Horvat make his larger point, though he does, here, attempt to correlate the character Hamlet with the need to be more true to one’s own artistic integrity. While I applaud such an effort, the writing just doesn’t measure up to this line of reasoning.
That said, this company is made up of a very strong group of actors. These artists deserve more artistic food to chew on than the “MAD-TV”-style sketches here provide—I’d like to be there whenever that occurs. Christopher Andersson is uproarious as Andy, a frantic host of his graduate school showcase—ten years after they’ve all graduated. And the competent and rather enigmatic Matthew McIver brings laughter to us all with his obnoxious mime student character—you’ll want to shoot him. In the head. It works.
Truly great comedy (as well as tragedy) is based in necessity. While I believe that Selling Out has a theme that is important and has the potential to be ridiculously funny, the execution in this case leaves one starving for deeper meaning and insight.