That's EisenSTEEN!

Eisenstein's Monster

By Linda Eisenstein
Directed by Mark Finley and Rebecca Longworth
The Duplex
61 Christopher St. (212/255-5438)
Non-union production (Tuesdays only; closes Nov. 23)
Review by Charles Battersby

Eisenstein's Monster consists of six short plays and monologs. The first is a monolog called Zombie Grrlz From the Crypt. In it a goth girl (Holly Sheppard) rants to the audience that she doesn't like vampires, but rather is turned on by zombies, particularly zombified corporate women in the office typing pool. This funny scene was a good one to start the show, as it deals with several themes that would be carried on in the rest of ...Monster, including anti-corporate sentiment, lesbianism, the longing for love, and, of course, monsters.

F2F was next, and also a monolog. In it Helena (Stephanie Dellani) talks about the anxiety of meeting an Internet friend "Face to Face" (or F2F in net lingo). It isn't as LOL funny as some of the other pieces in the show, nor was it intended to be all comedy. But it was a great showcase for Dellani (who played a non-speaking zombie in the first scene). Dellani was the standout performer of the evening, and got to demonstrate her comic skills in her later scenes.

A Rustle of Wings was next, a short play that was hip deep in sexual metaphor. Mira (Anne Ashby) meets Jewell (Kelly Fisher), a sexy blonde with black feathery wings growing out her back. It turns out Mira has wings too, and the sexual metaphors really take flight after that.

The highlight of the evening was the fourth piece, Acme Temporary Services. There are no monsters, love, or lesbians in this hilarious monolog. It's just a hysterical slam against the corporate machine, in which Dellani plays the owner of a temp agency and just doesn't care about the companies she sends her people to. Her motto: "Acme if I care." It's rich with catharsis for those who've worked as temps (no doubt playwright Linda Eisenstein falls into this group too).

The fifth piece, Gentrification, is the most realistic scene of the show. Liz Davito and Mary Louise Mooney played a white lesbian couple who resent being called "Urban Pioneers" when they move into an ethnic neighborhood.

Topping off the show was That Was No Lady From the Sea, a farcical spoof of the melodrama found in Ibsen's plays.

While several of these pieces were absolutely brilliant, a couple of them were less so. Gentrification seemed a tad out of place with the others, as did Acme Temp Services, though it was so funny it didn't matter.

Original music was composed by Morry Campbell, who took to the stage for a couple of supporting roles. Campbell's music was an integral part of the final piece, which was riddled with melodramatic "Dum Dum DUMM!!!" musical gags. Michael Muccio's set was restricted by the fact that the chosen venue was a tiny cabaret stage (with a piano right in the middle of it). Alicia Andrews's costumes were at their best in the final piece, though the goth outfit from Zombie Grrlz was great too.

Despite the title, there's nothing monstrous about this show. TOSOS II is rapidly building a reputation for quality work.

Also featuring Bob Cruz.

Box Score:

Writing: 2
Directing: 2
Acting: 1
Set: 1
Costumes: 1
Lighting/Sound: 2

Return to Volume Eleven, Number Nine Index

Return to Volume Eleven Index

Return to Home Page

Copyright 2004 Charles Battersby