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
request to "please, turn off your cell phones." But when
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
"If your cell phone goes off," we were told, "a cast
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
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
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
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,
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
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
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
senior analyst, receptionist, or CEO — "Ctrl+Alt+Delete"
should not only ring true, but also offer a welcome antidote to
long week at the office.
— Nicole Plett
Avenue, New Brunswick, 732-246-7717. $26 to $41. Performances continue
to April 14.
Corrections or additions?
This page is published by PrincetonInfo.com
— the web site for U.S. 1 Newspaper in Princeton, New Jersey.