Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Review: A Play for the Digital Age

In a time where a rise to fame can come by simply being an overnight sensation with the click on a link and the help of social media, comes a tale of a boy who dreams of being a viral video sensation. Though it’s not the most original of ideas it’s a very topical story. We very rarely see how instant stardom affects the parties involved. In FriendAndy.com we get a glimpse on what happens when Andy, a starving artist, gets his shot at viral glory.
What FriendAndy.com does wonderfully is integrate digital media into performance, a trend we’re bound to see more of soon. The projections used helps to create Andy’s cyberspace world by simply being the computer screen Andy sees. From Skype sessions to diagnostic reviews to other bloggers’ sites, the projections serve the world of the play tremendously. Integrated into the technological world are four great actors, lead by the engagingly gifted Hayes Dunlap as Andy. From the start, Dunlap has the audience eating out of the palm of his hand, a vital trait a viral sensation needs. Dunlap’s Andy gets caught up in stardom and his journey is the one we follow. Dunlap is aided by three actors who serve as his digital cohorts. Sean Hefferon, Laura Kaldis, and Nastasha Strang do a great job playing an assortment of characters. From Kaldis’s Abby, Andy’s girlfriend, to Strang’s Pam, Andy’s cyberspace endorser, to Hefferon’s Charlie Buck, they each are sure to pack a punch, altering Andy’s dreams.
Instead of focusing on plot, something lacking from Andy’s story, writer/director/creator Wesley Fruge has inserted movement pieces, mostly involving the three supporting actors altering Andy and his world. While certainly engaging, from a plot standpoint, there are missing pieces that are severely necessary to understand Andy’s trajectory that could be inserted instead. The Skype scenes between Andy and Abby are really the only thing holding the plot together. By only clocking in at eighty minutes in run time, Fruge can afford to discover the plot holes and insert them into an already winning piece. Right now, by the end of the show, it’s difficult to care too much for Andy because we only see his dastardly doings and not much of his personal struggle.
FriendAndy.com is one of the more interesting pieces at this year’s Festival. There is a lot of potential for this play, so if you miss it now, you’ll be bound to see it again.