THIS IS A NEWSPAPER
nytheatre.com review by Richard Hinojosa
"There are very few things that
aren’t funny in hindsight." This exceedingly veracious line is the theme
of Jordan Seavey’s darkly funny new play This is a Newspaper.
August 15, 2003
In a series of sketches, This is a Newspaper tells the "true" stories behind headlines. The cast is fantastic. Each member of this ensemble creates multiple distinct characters for every scene they are called upon to play. I have to give kudos to Geoffrey Decas and Boo Killebrew for standing out among such a talented cast.
Seavey’s script is a real roller-coaster ride. At its best, it is clever and hilarious. The opening scene in which a couple laughs about being taking hostage in a Moscow theater is grimly comical. And the scene with the two guys who find love on a hijacked airplane warmed and blackened my heart at the same time. But the scene that is truly inspired is the musical number about a Chinese child prostitution ring. The number is backed up superbly with live music from the way-under-used accompanist Andrew Lagrimas. The shorter sketches are some of the best. The guy who tries to bring a brick on the airplane is a belly laugh and half.
However, some of the sketches go on a bit too long and some I couldn’t figure out how they connected to media headlines. I also expected the script to highlight the media’s desire to feed us this garbage and the public’s hunger for it. But it never makes that connection. Also, some of the headlines seem a bit outdated like the Lady Di and Winona Ryder scenes. It takes away from the freshness of the play.
Overall the script is strong. But Seavey needs to work on his endings. Most of them fall flat. A few blackouts would have helped. And, this I have to say, David Reynoso’s set is an eyesore. It consists of large racks, stuffed with newspaper and inexplicably wrapped in cellophane. The set serves no other purpose than to clutter the stage, limit the actor’s playing area, and make Matthew Hopkins’ slick direction a more difficult task.
This is a Newspaper is bold, beautifully shocking, and savagely funny. It is refreshing to see a playwright who unabashedly tackles issues that these days might seem taboo. Check this one out. It personifies the value of FringeNYC.