Corrections or additions?

This article by Nicole Plett was prepared for the March 27, 2002

edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Drama Review: `Ctrl + Alt + Del’

Theatergoers have become fairly inured to the

before-curtain

request to "please, turn off your cell phones." But when

artistic

director David Saint spoke from the stage of George Street Playhouse

on opening night of Anthony Clarvoe’s "Ctrl+Alt+Delete," his

words of caution were as unconventional as the new comedy that

followed:

"If your cell phone goes off," we were told, "a cast

member

will come and answer it."

Clarvoe’s new comedy "Ctrl+Alt+Delete," had its East Coast

premiere Friday, March 22, with performances continuing to April 14.

Set in the high-speed world of corporate glamour, stock trading, and

high-tech startups, Clarvoe constructs a wonderfully sturdy and

unpredictable

comic plot that is directed — and, I should add, choreographed

— with split-second timing, by Ethan McSweeny.

Clarvoe’s play is a true ensemble piece in which six very different

characters, from six different walks of life, find themselves caught

up in the giddy spectacle of the speculative markets of the late,

great 1990s. Significantly, these cell-phone savvy players refer to

themselves at times as characters out of "The Wizard of Oz,"

the Muppet Show, and Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.

Contributing a big measure of fun and glitz to the show’s all-too-real

historic moment is designer Mark Wendland’s fine slick setting, with

lighting design by Jeff Croiter, and Bruce Ellman’s vintage 1950s

"ding ding, busy busy" musical interludes.

All kinds of lights, arrayed in grids and on their own, stand as

metaphor

for the ineffable world of high finance during the 1999 stock market

boom and bust. A yellow neon tube rises like a lightning bolt from

the back of the stage, zigs up above the stage action, and zags clear

over the audience’s heads. Equally key to the action are four nifty

rolling tables, with matching blue and turquoise rolling swivel

chairs,

and four notebook computers. When the TV news anchor practically sings

into her microphone, "You’re looking at the greatest creation

of wealth in history!," she makes us believers.

The well-oiled ensemble features Jonathan Hogan as Gus Belmont,

venture

capitalist. The fourth richest man in America, he is a recent heart

attack survivor and an enigma to almost everyone. Tagging along beside

him with curiosity, caresses, and a tray full of his meds is Sarah

Avery as the tall, attractive young Marie. Introduced by a Belmont

staffer as the boss’s "new niece," it’s also rumored that

"she’s the heart attack."

At the eye of the storm is James Ludwig as the young Eddie Fisker,

"the kid with the Gizmo,"a charming Tom Swift type. This

ingenuous

and ingenious stock analyst who serendipitously gets to pitch his

"Gizmo" to Gus Belmont is everybody’s dream of the smart,

ambitious kid who still has a few scruples with which to confront

his jaded elders.

Sam Gregory plays Belmont’s manager Carbury Grendall, a disconsolate

corporate drone trying to live down his reputation as "the guy

who cratered his start-up" even as he tries to day-trade his way

back to amassing the indispensable "fuck-you fund."

Adding to the dynamic ensemble is Daniel Pearce as Tom Xerox (yes,

the program listing carries a "TM" mark), the world-weary

scion of a wealthy, dysfunctional family with just one invaluable

skill — he can sell. Pearce’s multi-call sales monologue, via

a hands-free cell phone, is one of the evening’s highlights. Actress

K.J. Sanchez gives an equally colorful and convincing performance

as the scarlet-clad TV anchor, Toria Bruno. Breaking into the action

with breathless news bulletins, she’s a spinner of dreams and of just

plain spin.

What Fisker, an eager beaver who places events of a year ago as a

time when "the world was young," doesn’t realize at first

is that getting funded by Belmont’s incredible wealth is only the

beginning of his challenges. His wireless "Gizmo," which he

describes as a sure-fire seller and all-in-one solution for all us

peons who "can’t get their personal digital things to do what

they want them to do," gets hyped to the skies — even though

none exists. Why aren’t we making Gizmos? he demands to know. "As

soon as you start making products you’re a sitting duck" is his

savvy manager’s reply.

For Route 1 corridor white-collar workers — be they junior

analyst,

senior analyst, receptionist, or CEO — "Ctrl+Alt+Delete"

should not only ring true, but also offer a welcome antidote to

another

long week at the office.

— Nicole Plett

Ctrl+Alt+Delete, George Street Playhouse, 9

Livingston

Avenue, New Brunswick, 732-246-7717. $26 to $41. Performances continue

to April 14.


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