nytheatre.com review by Kristin Skye Hoffmann
August 19, 2009
Groupies is a collection of four monologues by Sharon Lintz, performed by four different actors. The idea is that that are all connected by one common theme, an obsession with celebrity and a location somewhere near New York City. Each character is from a different walk of life, a different generation, and has a different reason for appreciating said celebrity. Somehow this attempt at a common theme does not come across effectively.
We begin with Ralph Pochoda performing a monologue titled "Shanghai Express." His character has a slight fascination with Marlene Dietrich which fuels his fascination with glamorous women and a more mysterious time at Radio City Music Hall. He is speaking to a prostitute in a hotel room. The performance is well-rehearsed and steady, but it never goes deep. We never see what makes this character tick. The journey of this nameless character moves from low-energy to a little bit creepy.
Next we meet Patty, a very sweet cancer patient who is trying to make the best out of life. She briefly mentions enjoying Elizabeth Taylor's philosophy about always looking her best and wearing pearls when she goes to Manhattan. "Pearls" is performed by Tricia Beyer. Again the performance feels shallow, but the real problem here is that it is never clear who Patty is speaking to, or why, for that matter. In fact, she actually takes off her clothes and changes in front of this mystery listener.
The penultimate monologue is "Eminem," performed by Damion Lee. This character identifies with the rapper Eminem because the celebrity considered himself born white when he should have been black and Lee's character has a similar distress. He drops familiar quotes which is endearing. But again, it is unclear whom the character is speaking to and why. The pacing is slow and it is an unnatural performance from a clearly likable actor.
The show closes with a monologue titled "Heart-Shaped Box," performed by Jeff Berg. This monologue has the most energy and use of celebrity influence. He recalls in detail the day he learned of Kurt Cobain's suicide. Berg is, again, speaking to an invisible audience for an unknown reason, but it fits a little better this time around because Berg sells it. His experience is definitely on the graphic side but definitely held my attention.
Perhaps with a clearer vision from writer Lintz and a bit more guidance from director Jonathan Warman, this show could be a little more entertaining. It is also possible that the stretch toward a coherent theme worked against the show. Perhaps they could find a different angle, tweak it a bit, and have nice night of theatre on their hands.