The Nektonic Facteur

Written and directed by Michael Dorian
WOW Cafe, 59-61 E.4th St. (420-8877)
(Fringe Festival) Closes Aug. 28
Review by Dudley Stone

Welcome to the Theatre of the Absurd. It proved to be a mistake to try to figure out what was going on in this play prior to writing the usual review - summarizing the play, then evaluating the production and performances. But here goes anyway.

In a setting "someday, a contemporary day, any day, somewhere, anywhere in the Western World" and in a play-within-a-play (maybe), Archer, a nerdy accountant, is trying to get Wilcox and Paisley to pay their share of the rent of their apartment. Wilcox lounges in a smoking jacket, smoking a cigarette in a holder, and reading James Joyce as Paisley paints her toenails. Viv (a Judy Holliday dumb blonde) arrives and falls for the nerd, who tells her he is a secret agent. Later her boyfriend, Rocco Capo di Melone, arrives and threatens to beat up Archer. From time to time, the Nektonic Facteur, a French postman, enters and delivers a postcard, which contains extracts from the playwright/director's poetry (also reprinted in more detail on the back of the program).

Oh, by the way ... nekton: the total population of actively swimming organisms able to move independently of currents; facteur: postman (French). Though very little of the play was readily understandable, it is quite well-written, and although its 70 minutes could easily be trimmed by 10 (by cutting the lengthy and unfunny Tarot-card scene), it does contain some laughs; was mercifully lacking in the seemingly obligatory vulgarity of so many of the Fringe productions; and was quite well-presented, acted, and directed (though it's hard to say in Theater of the Absurd, in which almost anything goes).

Unfortunately, the lead, Marc Levine, as Archer, though he looked right for the role, had some trouble with his lines, and his attempt at an English accent, which ranged from New York to London to Yorkshire, was unconvincing. He clearly was not up to the demands of his lengthy and often tedious monologues. As Paisley, Elizabeth Stifter had some good moments, and her seduction scene on the sofa with Wilcox was very funny. Ford Austin, who played Wilcox, was often quite droll, and Karri Jinkins, as Viv, the blonde bombshell, and John Blesso, as Rocco, did well with their stereotyped roles. The standout, though, in relatively small roles as the Nektonic Facteur, Conceptualization, and a Rod Serling impersonation (thrown in for good measure), was the delightful Jonathan Mazer. His entrances were worth looking forward to. Set, costumes and lighting/sound, all uncredited, were all acceptable. Bottom line: impossible to understand, but neverthless quite an enjoyable evening.
Box Score:

Writing: 1
Directing: 1
Acting: 1
Set: 1
Costumes: 1
Lighting/Sound: 1

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Copyright 1999 Dudley Stone