Seventeen characters vent about their stymied acting careers and obsess over James Dean in Larry Myers's newest work, Zip Code of Atlantis. Set in a locker room in Hollywood, this play is a loose collection of eight vignettes centering on would-be actors who commiserate over not being hired for a film. With boisterous enthusiasm these narcissistic, compulsive, and at times deranged characters use the acting life to examine themes of identity, exploitation, sexuality, homophobia, health, and politics. Although topical and energetic, this production was a muddled mass that was alienating, confusing, and underdeveloped.
A central flaw in this production was the characterizations. Moving away from the monologue structure employed in his recent work, Myers uses primarily two- and three-character scenes to explore the vacuity and neuroses inherent in the Hollywood actor's life. Yet, in these scenes, the characters truly did not interact. Instead, they ranted to themselves, each other, and the audience, often reducing their scene partners to sounding boards. The characters were never really challenged, resulting in a play without movement and characters without development. The play does contain moments of subtle insight and subversive darkness that are a hallmark of Myers's earlier work, but they are lost in the banality of the characters' frustration and complaining. Missing here is the excitement of rich and varied personages who draw unknowing audiences into their frightening worlds.
While the actors' performances were periodically striking and energetic, they lacked subtly and vulnerability. There were few moments of genuine honesty and emotion. Actors did not interact so much as juxtapose themselves within scenes. Many performances were almost surreal in their detachment from any emotional reality, while others simply seemed about showcasing the actors' physique.
Direction (Mark Hartmann and Monte Zanca) was uninspired and at times heavy-handed. The scenes often moved rudderlessly without clear, strong choices. Lacking a strong agenda, the actors seemed busier with changing their attire and exposing their bodies needlessly than exposing themselves emotionally.
Costume design (uncredited) was the strongest technical aspect of this production. Clever and sometimes over-the-top, the costumes were essential for the play's action and for bringing thematic focus to the physical body. The set design (Mark Marcante) was bare bones and amateurish. Consisting essentially of a bench and a table, the set was unsuccessful in defining the locale, let alone adding texture to the world of the play. Lighting design (Bill Bradford) was eye-catching although its intent was not always clear.
(Cast included Michael Buoni, Joe Capozzi, Michael Ciminera, Patrick Connors, Austin Billingsley Drill, Casey Fatchett, Timothy Heath, Heidi Horst, Eddie Manley, Conrad May, Jace McLean, Kerri Meoni, Leigh Montanye, Alyssa Morano, Joseph Napoli, Timo Schnellinger, and Monte Zanca.)
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Copyright 2001 Adam Cooper