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Larry Litt


"Allen Wilder 2.0"


"Allen Wilder 2.0"
Written and Directed by Matt Morillo
Theater for the New City
155 1st Ave., NYC
Limited run Jan 7 to Jan 31
Reviewed Jan 7, 2016 by Larry Littany Litt

Steph Van Vlack (L), Joe Casey (middle) and Becca Fox (R).

Middle age. The sounds of those shattering words strike quivering fear into the hearts of those who seek eternal youth. Especially if the mirror on the wall tells them the truth. Such a mirror is Matt Morillo’s new comedy, "Allen Wilder 2.0."
In a sad Levittown house on legendarily boring Long Island, Michael Sullivan returns to his empty childhood home. It’s mostly deserted with a few pieces of furniture and many boxes covering the floor. This memory is now up for sale by his estranged sister.

Joe Casey (L) as a soft-core porn filmmaker and Steph Van Vlack (R) as his ex-babysitter.

Enter Michael (boyishly played by Joe Casey as a smooth talking yet confused and defensive soft core porn film maker) who is assigned by his sister to go through the boxes of his boyhood room’s collection of ‘crap,’ throw it all out, ridding her of his old ‘junk.’ Though he intends to cull his possessions instead Michael returns to the house with his childhood baby sitter, Donna who he has picked up in a neighborhood sleaze bar. Issues of sex with older women abound. Steph Van Vlack is a perfectly youthful alluring middle aged actress with a wide range of emotions that attract old and young men alike.
It could be a maudlin scene but in Morillo’s capable fast talking hands both Michael and Donna come to a decision that takes into account a hilarious history of sex, drinking, soft core porn and older woman/younger man attractions. It’s dialogue revealing contemporary truths for a generation that is scared and lonely.

Joe Casey as a soft-core porn filmmaker. Photo by Farnaz Taherimotlagh.

The morning after Michael and Donna’s tryst, there’s an unexpected knock at the door. Enter Kayla (played by Becca Fox, an able and convincing young actress with good anger projection), Michael’s twenty-something niece. She hasn’t seen him in ages, and she is full of loathing and second hand tales of horror about him and his depraved Hollywood stoner, sex addict lifestyle. Seems like no one in Levittown understands Michael. But that’s okay because Michael doesn’t understand why he’s falling for Donna who is ten years older than him.
Ultimately this is a play about reconciling the fact that dreams don’t have to come true as long as there’s a journey that calls. Middle aged people are frequently disappointed in their achievements, their love lives, their children, parents, jobs. Everything in fact that people do can bring down a depressing curse unless, unless as Morillo says "we take chances that make us feel alive."

Joe Casey as a soft-core porn filmmaker and Becca Fox (behind) as his niece. Photo by Farnaz Taherimotlagh.

I believe this is Morillo’s chance to talk about art and relationships through the lives of characters that mirror his own experience. This play could be a pilot for a sitcom about adults who are real, not pasteboard perfections from an advertising campaign.
Well worth your time going out to "Allen Wilder 2.0" for a night of laughs and very deep reflections on life.


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