nytheatre.com review by Seth Duerr
Writer/performer Chris Harcum’s Gotham Standards is about the
places we escape to so that we can live, when it seems the world around
us is dying. At once, powerful and insightful, Harcum’s show is a
75-minute solo tour-de-force that is something to be seen. The
characters that the actor embodies here include an elderly European man
waiting in a deli line, a little boy who triumphantly declares that he
thinks he’s lost his virginity because he’s kissed a girl, a failing
rock star, as well as Harcum himself.
August 15, 2003
The story is one of attachments, loss, and how to deal with the harshness in between by constantly re-focusing your perspective to see something more positive. The writer’s playground is a dramatic wonderland of the severest contradictions—imagination vs. reality and life vs. death. Harcum is at his best when letting us know that if we can find solace in our imaginations, then perhaps there is hope we can find it in reality.
As an actor, Harcum vibrantly expresses his themes through eight extremely entertaining character studies. These are not just cardboard cut-outs, though at times Harcum seems a little held back by Janine Marie McCabe’s direction, and the work feels a bit contrived at certain moments because of that. However, Harcum never loosens his grasp on his own imagination, constantly searching, questioning, re-thinking. There is a fine line between a strong metaphor and something that sounds like writing, and Harcum’s pen avoids the latter most of the time, offering the audience variety and depth. Harcum’s own sound design is effective, and Sean Crowley’s lighting design is surprisingly potent, again offering up attention to detail and strong storytelling.
All in all, this is an engaging story, one that is obviously important to the storyteller, and ultimately one worth telling…go see this show.