September 12, 2009

Under Ice

Debbie and I went to see "Under Ice" at the Griffin Theater tonight. What a pretentious piece of self-indugent sophmoric crap. The good news is that it was the last night so you don't have to worry about seeing it. The bad news goes on and on.

First, let me say that the acting was great. Technically brilliant, the play is practically 90 minutes of long monologue after long monologue, intercut with intricately choreographed rapid fire dialog. I would say that it was a triumph of form over substance, except that there wasn't enough substance to triumph over.

The point of the play is that corporate culture is shallow and meaningless, values youth and energy over age and experience, and will suck your soul and throw you aside. The points are made with all the subtlety of schoolyard sarcasm, and repeated ad infinitum and ad nauseum. In case we didn't get the point by having a forty something office guy contrasted with two twenty something go getters, we are later treated to a grade schooler dressed up in a business suit who joins their team. Oh yes, we also get sports analogies and a heavy handed example of how business will use anything - including "art" - as grist for the corporate mill.

I think the only reason I didn't walk out 15 minutes into an excruciating and seemingly interminable 90 minute show was that I'd have had to walk across the stage in the middle of the performance in order to escape.

This play comes across as someone who wants to show off their mastery of technique but has only high school level playwriting skills with which to demonstrate them. The Griffin's 2009 logo is "2009" traced out in pyrotechnic sparkler, and this play was ultimately about as flashy and satisfying as free fireworks. I've been somewhat disappointed with the rest of this season's offerings from the Griffin, but this was by far the worst of the lot.
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