nytheatre.com review by Robin Rothstein
July 20, 2008
Even if you have been living under a rock, you are no doubt aware of the existence of the reality television phenomenon, the ways in which it has permeated our culture, and how these programs aren't about to fade to black anytime soon. No sooner does one reality show die out and you think they have finally, finally run out of inane, forced situations when a new, more ridiculous one seems to sprout up in its place like a perennial weed.
Interning, an offering at this year's Midtown International Theater Festival, is about a group of four interns who each hope to land the coveted assistant event planner position at the end of the summer, while they are at the same time possibly being filmed for a reality pilot. Interning at first shows glimmers of being an edgy, comic romp that will satirize the exploitative and ludicrous circumstances that typify the reality television genre. Unfortunately though, these glimmers quickly fizzle out and the piece ultimately ends up boiling down to just a mundane group of undercooked scenes that fail to express anything new.
The ensemble of six actors are all fresh faces and full of spirit, but because the show doesn't seem to have been given adequate time to develop and find itself, there are few opportunities for the cast to coordinate and maximize their efforts. The concept as it stands lacks cohesiveness, innovation, and action, but the biggest weaknesses lie in Rye Mullis's flimsy direction, which tends to leave the actors hanging out to dry. Except for the occasional honed bit and ironic music clip, much of Interning feels flat and uninventive, from the static staging to the limp and awkward pacing. The actors do their best to keep the energy up though and manage to provide a few deliciously silly moments, most particularly Anderson Lim as the colorful, closeted intern, George. Ryan Andes as Ron Olden, the smarmy, infantile event planning director, is also a distinct presence, and Jenna Pace exhibits a flair for comedy as the bullying vixen and recent Miss Tri-State, Alisha.
The last section of the show, an amusing YouTube-like episodic short film depicting "deleted scenes" from the reality pilot footage, is the highlight of Interning. These clips show the performers off at their best and the calculated camera work and editing begin to exhibit a discernible sensibility that is absent from the rest of the show.
The brainchild of actress/writer Nadia Owusu and her production company, Where's My Waitress Productions, Interning is the kind of show that requires an acute sense of self-awareness and attention to detail in order to succeed. The reality of this reality show though is that it should have spent much more time in the development stage before it launched itself into prime time.