Off Broadway (and sometimes Broadway) Reviews and Information.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

2.0 Brings a Updated View to Life

TWO_POINT_OH now playing at 59E59 theaters is a fascinating new play.  It is based on a futuristic premise, but addresses the current problem people have trying to connect with each other.  Science Fiction is one of the hardest genres to do well in the theater, but TWO_POINT_OH handles it beautifully.  Much of the credit has to go to the cast and creative crew that bring a future both immediate and believable.

Jack Noseworthy (on screen) and Karron Graves in
 TWO POINT OH at 59E59 Theaters. Photo by  Jimmi Kilduff
The story follows software billionaire, Elliot Leeds, and what happens after he dies.  His plane goes down, but Elliot has left a unique software program behind.  He has left a virtual reality version of himself embedded in the computer, to interact with his wife Melanie.  In a super wired mansion (ala Bill Gates’ home), this Elliot 2.0 can appear on-screen, tracking his wife’s words, movements and physical changes.  Always pre-occupied when alive, Elliot 2.0 has time to be the (almost) perfect husband.

Jack Noseworthy does an outstanding job, bringing this Elliot to life, solely via big screen.  The program’s “humanity” develops at a believable pace, transition as the program learns.  It is a rather thankless role, playing a computer simulation, but Mr. Noseworthy does it excellently.  Elliot 2.0 comes to understand his shortcomings as a husband and tries to correct them.  He also appears to his old partner, Ben Robbins.

James Ludwig plays Ben and shows us fully rounded individual.  Ben is neither all saint nor all sinner.   Ben was Elliot’s computer geniuses partner at the founding of the company, and he refuses to interact with Elliot 2.0 as anything other than a complex program.  Albeit a program that is both pushy and needy.

Karron Graves has a much more difficult time with the role of Melanie Leeds, the widow first, and then manipulated wife.  Ms. Groves does an excellent job with grief, too excellent.  The character of Melanie runs the full gamut of emotions, from love to annoyance to despair to incredulity.  And while Ms. Graves pulls each off wonderfully, the swings do pull the tone of TWO_POINT_OH abruptly.

L-R: James Ludwig and Antoinette LaVecchia in
TWO POINT OH at 59E59 Theaters. Photo by  Jimmi Kilduff
Both Antoinette LaVecchia, as the new company’s CEO, and Michael Sean McGuinness, as a sensationalist newscaster, provide some great laughs in a believable way.  Ms. LaVecchia in particular grabs hold of her role and plays it as wildly as possible, without going over the top.

As version 2.0, Elliot can finally see how technology, now making his “life” possible, interfered with his physical marriage before his death.  For us, there is no second chance, and the moral of the story is that delaying your real life for the vibrating phone or the immediate facebook post is rarely a good trade.  TWO_POINT_OH makes the point subtly, but elegantly.

David Bengali does a great job with the media/projection design, leaving the audience to question what was done live and what was pre-filmed.  Credit also goes to Mr. Noseworthy here; some in the audience wondered if he was actually performing (and were pleasantly relieved at the curtain call).  Done poorly, this design could have sabotaged the show, but Mr. Bengali does a stand out job of using the technology without letting it overwhelming the show.

TWO_POINT_OH’s tough stretch is rather early in the first half when Melanie has a breakdown over her husband’s death and then deals with his “return”.  Once we are past that writer Jeffrey Jackson and director Michael Unger can let the piece open up and take flight.
Playwright: Jeffrey Jackson
Director: Michael Unger
Cast: Jack Noseworhty, Karron Graves, James Ludwig, Antoinette LaVecchia, Micahel Sean McGuinness

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