Soylent Green is people!

The Overdevelopment of Scott

Written and directed by Sharon J. Fogarty
Midtown International Theatre Festival/Abingdon Theatre Arts Complex Mainstage
312 West 36th Street (212/279-4200;;
Equity showcase (closes Aug. 3)
Review by Charles Battersby

The future! A frightening dystopia where humans are kept in cages for experimentation, and genetically engineered to be the most efficient test subjects possible. The Overdevelopment of Scott deals with seven such test subjects and the two technicians assigned to study them. Eventually the title character (a former test subject himself) shows up to throw a monkey wrench into the works. Hilarity and musical numbers ensue.

Originality is not the play's strong point. With its notion of people being genetically modified to suit their destined careers, ...Scott reeks of Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, with a pinch of a half-a-dozen other sci-fi projects thrown in. The story is pretty easy to figure out as well; as soon an it's revealed that Scott has been genetically engineered for "benevolence" and that he'll be in charge of watching over the abused test subjects, it's not hard to figure out how the rest of the play will go.

The play's strong point was actually its tech. Each of the test subjects had a unique color present in their costumes (by Sharon Fogarty) and also in their lighting (Jonathan Fuchs). Spotlights on each actor represented the futuristic energy fields used for cages, with each "cage" matching the character's individual color scheme. This clever use of lighting was badly needed, since the show had almost no set, and the test subjects squatted on milk crates (not futuristic milk crates full of "space milk" or anything, just plain old milk crates). The sound was also impressive, using a live keyboard player (Ron Anteroinen and Kenny Davidsen) and a guitarist. Sharon J. Fogarty who also wrote and directed, played the guitar, and provided excellent (and oh-so-sexy) voiceovers for the computer that ran the lab.

Despite the script's lack of surprises, Scott contained numerous funny moments, particularly the monologs from test subject Freddie (Jason Grossman), who was raised by television and communicates frequently through impressions of TV celebrities. Timothy P. Daly also had some funny moments, particularly when he fretted over his unrequited, homoerotic love for one of his fellow Technicians, played by a deliciously evil Steve Deighan.

The play is billed as an "anti-musical" and even goes so far as to have a song called (I Hate) "Broadway Musicals." It IS an anti-musical, though not in the way the writer intended. The musical numbers are entirely unnecessary, being just a parade of exposition and "I Want-" songs where each character takes his or her turn informing the audience of their innermost desire, or some piece of backstory. That said, the music did remain entertaining for much of the play -- it just became tedious by the time the Fogarty's (unintentionally?) Broadway-esque finale rolled around.

With the dystopia genre having been mastered by the likes of George Orwell, Harry Harrison, and Yevgeny Zamyatin and lampooned to perfection by Woody Allen in Sleeper, there's little need for The Overdevelopment of Scott. But, for dystopia fans, Scott is a pleasant diversion while waiting for Ben Affleck to star in a remake of Soylent Green.

(Also features Donna Heffernan, Mathew Porter, Sanjay Kaul, Charles Moran, Elizabeth Mozer, Danielle Montezinos, and Susie Thiel.)

Box Score:

Writing: 1
Directing: 1
Acting: 1
Sets: 0
Costumes: 1
Lighting/Sound: 2

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Copyright 2003 Charles Battersby