I VERMIN, A HOLLYWOOD SUCCESS STORY
nytheatre.com review by Debbie Hoodiman
This satirical comedy by Philip Kaplan and Stephanie Walter tells the
story of Aldo Natz (Jeremy Rabb), who was abandoned as an infant in a
city garbage can and raised by a family of cockroaches. Because of
Aldo's upbringing with roaches (and therefore his attraction to trash,
the play tells us), he is perfect for the entertainment industry. So, he
goes on to be the toast of Hollywood, finding success as an actor,
producer, and agent. The play begins with his introduction to the public
at his agent Penny Nimwell (Carole Healey)’s party and ends with (I’ll
be vague here) the end of his career.
August 15, 2003
On the way, there is plenty of making fun of everything—ranging from what made Marilyn Monroe famous to reality TV shows to Hollywood spiritual gurus—and plenty of droll pop culture references.
The large cast, with many actors playing more than one role, does a great job. I loved how the audience was directly addressed several times in the play, whether by Eddie the Janitor (the hilarious Lawrence Arancio); by Honey Harding (the fabulous Regan Thompson), reporter for an Entertainment Tonight-type gossip show; or Doug Humperdinck (John Morgan), a motivational speaker who promises to make you a star in one weekend. I loved the clever sound cues. I loved the many different characters, notably Aldo’s parents and two fans (played by Joshua Sidis and Danielle Alderman) and his two wives Lina and Lana (both played by Sorrel Tomlinson). I loved Penny’s many costumes.
While watching this production, however, I couldn’t help but feel that I was seeing a shadow of the show’s potential. A few points confused me (e.g. Aldo’s repeated disappearances and reappearances in the public eye), and though in Act II it was clearer, I felt confused about what made Aldo a star in Hollywood in the first place.
I’d like to see what I Vermin would look like with tighter direction and a tighter script. I also think the script could be adapted for film. Over all, it is an enjoyable, intelligent, and fun show with a lot of funny jokes, and I hope it is produced again.