Flirting with Reality
nytheatre.com review by Richard Hinojosa
October 19, 2005
For some people, reality TV offers them a chance to be a part of a world that they admire and a shot at their 15 minutes of fame. The fact that they will most likely have to expose their vulnerabilities in front of millions of people matters little to them. The casting directors for these shows, particularly the dating shows, are looking for extreme personality types like “The Asshole,” “The Nympho,” or “The Nice Guy” so they can pit them against each other because that makes for “good” TV. We sit in our living rooms and watch them make fools of themselves so we can feel better about ourselves. I think that’s the main point the Flirting with Reality tries to make. And it does so in an interesting way.
There are just two actors. One plays a casting director and the other her cameraman, and they in turn play the 50 different personality types that come to audition for a dating show called "The Love Limo." The casting director is herself “The Bitch” and he is “The Nice Guy” and their relationship is sort of a reality show in and of itself. Their opposing personalities make for a lot of good conflict, just as it would on television.
They squabble over the ethics of the way they judge the people that come in to audition. Issues such as race and “TV ugly” are bounced around though they never really land anywhere. We begin to see that they both have a lot to offer each other and wonder if they will make a “real” connection. But in the end reality is really real (not TV "real") and manipulation rules the day.
Playwright Suzanne Bachner makes broad swipes at stereotypes and pokes at a few serious issues but never really searches for any truth behind all of this categorization of people. I think her intention is to just make fun of the whole idea of these shows and the people who (1) cast/produce them and (2) want to be on them. She certainly succeeds at that. There are moments of great comedy in Flirting with Reality. A lot of them are pretty lowbrow (sex jokes mostly), but there are a few times when the relationship between the casting director and the cameraman reaches a decent sitcom level of humor.
Actors Felicia Scarangello (also credited with the show’s conception) and Alexander Warner show some great versatility. Scarangello is especially adept at transforming her body to fit her characters. Warner delivers a sort of standup-comedian-mixed-with-sincerity performance that really works for most of his characters.
Director Trish Minskoff keeps the pace buzzing along. At times I had trouble keeping up. She sets up some really intense physical situations between the two actors. I also liked how she placed the various characters all over the stage instead of solely in front of the camera.
Flirting with Reality is a good time. I laughed a bit and I didn’t have to think too much. In that way, it is sort of like reality TV.