The last of the Shelby Company shows I'm going to talk about this week is incredible rare. It's a show that dares to do something very few producers choose to do:
Make the audience uncomfortable.
Dan Moyer's You May Be Spendid Now comes into the theatrical world in a time when we are asking ourselves what we choose to watch on TV. One can't help but notice the nod to Conan O'Brien when looking at the poster for "Up Late with Skip Carter" and one can't help but draw parallels between the quiet desperation of all of these characters and the plight of television in a period when we all are able to find whatever we want on Hulu and the live experience is trumped left and right.
I enjoy Moyer's work because it's always smart. There's never a formula, there's just character and we as the audience are asked to interact with those characters no matter where they go. In many ways, I feel that what Moyer does with this piece is to include the audience in a huge sociological experiment. In fact, I'd even say bring a friend or two and watch who laughs at what and you'll discover a heck of a lot about each other. Out of each of the Shelby pieces I saw, this show left me thinking the most.
The story revolves around Skip Carter who with his sister Lacy have a late night talk show that no one watches. They have one goth special guest and a dead pan one man band. The show starts off feeling like a Saturday Night Live sketch, but as the layers are peeled off, we see that each of these characters is incredibly lonely and looking for someone to respond to them. The interesting thing that happens is that no one does. No one ever calls the show, so we see what happens when no one is watching. We see what happens when there's this level of isolation and it's funny and heartbreaking. This is a credit to the performers and the show's co-directors.
Emma Galvin and Will Brill have gotten an amazing performance out of this cast. They say with straight faces the kinds of lines that would be used to make someone break character in an acting exercise. Their concentration is a site to behold. The staging is also very clean and the choices for movement are very specific making things all the more disturbing. The performers also rise to the occasion.
Nicke Lehane's Skip is probably the most off-kilter of the bunch. In fact, there's a moment where he laughs when I honestly thought some of the people around me were going to scream. He has really excellent energy that can make the comedic moments pop, but when he focuses it in the other direction you wonder if he's going to pull out a machete and take everyone out. Lauren Glover's Lacy is like a young Anna Gasteyer and she does a wonderful job of going from the robotic co-host to a sister trying to tell her brother a secret. Gabriel Millman's Carl the one-man band is hilarious and often can make you laugh before he's even said anything. This works especially well since Moyer wrote the character in such a way that he often has one word answers. Lastly, Dan Wohl's Branson Burger-James Marilyn Manson-esque character provides a lot of comic relief during some of the tenser moments.
It's another very accomplished show and it makes for the third home run for Shelby.
So if you want to be part of the experiment, you can get your tickets here.
Hurry only a few shows left!