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By Falk Richter
Produced by The New Stage Theatre Company
Direction, Sound and Production Design by Ildeko Nemeth
Theater for the New City
155 First Avenue, NYC
Closes April 3, 2016
Reviewed by Larry Littany Litt, April 2, 2016
In 21st Century steel and concrete mega international airports live and work employed humans who have given themselves over to international corporate mechanization.Their stories aren't well known because they're not at the top of the social order. Neither are they rich nor creators of new digital enterprises. They are tech beholden workers without recourse in the modern world.
Electronic City is a social fantasy in the mode and message of Charlie Chaplin’s “Modern Times” meets “Everyman.” Work starved easily replaceable employees are programmed for underpaid employment in airport retail shops controlled by anonymous computer programmers often only heard on the other end of the emergency phone.
In the airports of New Stage Theatre ‘s Electronic City lives Joy, played by Kaylin Lee Clinton as a modern day kooky adventure seeker. She claims happily that she hasn’t been able to hold a job more than three days. Fortunately this particular airport job appears purely mechanical: scan the price of the sushi and drink, take the money, put it in the cash register. Someone from the company will eventually arrive to do everything else.
One day Joy meets Tom, neurotically played by Brandon Olson, a corporate business traveler who is ever catching planes to join meetings. Since it
happens in a modern airport their meeting is filled with high level personal stress. In fact they almost kill each other. Then realizing that they are very much alike they submerge their violent tempers to make forbidden, hidden airport love.
Fantastically dressed and with incredible bizarre movements several hyperactive actors comment, sing and dance about the inhumanity of modern computer controlled corporate life. Perky and droll Dana Boll, insidious Adam Boncz, Sofia O.C. of magnificent youthful body, ever wise Beth Dodye Bass and exuberant Chris Tanner create a chorus of provocative responses to our modern times.
Falk Richter’s retelling of the English classic Everyman morality play as a quest for employment and domestic success instead of salvation in our technologically controlled world. It’s both fun and tragic this minimalist look at the cultural and social interferences tech work has produced. In this version Tom and Joy represent the difficult adjustment low and middle level workers must make to survive. Otherwise they are condemned to so called meaninglessness in this era where your techno-status is everything.
There’s no salvation, only a modern madness that can be shared. How to reverse the corporate insanity? It’s almost a sin to admit a personal
breakdown when a tech company has hired you. Perhaps Hell is the job. Perhaps salvation is losing the job from mental stress.
Alas there’s no reckoning nor relief from the higher techno powers. Director Ildeko Nemeth sets the action in a mythical airport where anyone and everyone is flexible. Skills are the most important thing. Always be ready for change. Always be willing to upgrade your skills. Don’t question the life you’re living. Forget conventions of home, love, civility and forgiveness. Computers don’t know or care. Neither do the executives directing the new world serfdom.
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