Fear in a handful of dust

Video Viagra

By Larry Myers
Directed by Rich Crooks
Theater for the New City
Non-union production (closed)
Review by David Mackler

The world, according to the monologues assembled in Video Viagra, by Larry Myers, is going to hell in a handbasket. Myers has assembled a collection of the disenfranchised and the psychotic -- people on the edge, people in between, people at loose ends and at their wits ends. These are angry, confused, bitter people, some focused only enough to make their presences felt, at least for their moments on stage.

The writing varies from monologue to monologue, as did the playing. Some bits made obvious points, but others were sharp and pungent. Ian McGrady started off with a paean to Candy Darling which made a connection to Ken Starr's obsession with secondhand sex -- Candy comes out ahead. A lifeguard on "Baywatch" (Joe Napoli) observes that his TV profession could be construed as a metaphor for responsible sex. Derek Dooley angrily and movingly described his confusion at the paradox of the police's instigating a riot at the recent march in New York in memory of Matthew Sheppard.

Myers follows that with a take on the murder connected with the Jenny Jones talk show after a guest (Tim Douglas) killed the man who revealed his secret crush. This piece attempted too much -- it was part serious, part satire, and part knowing. (Here, as in some other monologues, it was too obvious that it was the author speaking, rather than the character.) This was followed by Richard Naers as an actor-hopeful who glories in his suntan and the fact that "I belong to no one." Then came Jason Maguffee as a photographer whose scene touched on kidnapping, kidney removal, positive visualization, and his past life as a British charwoman. Maguffee was very good, and made the melange work. Suzie Depp was very funny as a "mystery lady" who understands the similarities between charm school and prostitution.

Campbell Bridges revealed how he intends to leave his mark as a psychotic slasher after being labeled "minor talent" in his career in pornography. Then came the undisputed queen of the evening -- Lorisa Laurel as a psychotic singer stuck in Ohio. Her emotions turned on a dime, and she had an innocence -- while being completely theatrical -- that was priceless. Kevin Keaveney's emphatic defense of his 11-year-old son who is in jail for murder was more of the author talking; but the delightful Regina Pollio overcame that problem as the mother who defends Queen Elizabeth's behavior after Diana's death.

Many of the men Myers writes about harbor secret (and not so secret) fantasies, longings, and revulsions about gay sex. James Henry Whelan's gym teacher unsubtly describes his sadistic streak, then tells how his lamest students are now successful and openly gay. Eric Brooks brought realism to the apartment-cleaner who needs opera to make his job, and life, more bearable. Jenn Vath was very good as a woman whose Afghan rug with a picture of Jesus becomes a window into the beyond.

Some characters remained on stage after their spiels, but there was no interaction. Director/designer Rich Crooks had the characters talk directly to the audience, and their isolation was complete. They are all lost in one way or another, and they all believe things were better before this awful new stuff started happening. Things like Viagra. Literally or figuratively, consciously and unconsciously, they all get erections from pop culture and current events; it just doesn't seem to do any of them much good.

Also featuring Peter Wilde, Damien Martinez, Robert Josan, Tom Fenaughty, David Aronson, Michael La Fetra, Kelly Converse, and George Billeci.

Box Score

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

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Copyright 1998 David Mackler