Saturday, July 9, 2016

Review: Waiting for the Cable Guy

By Michael Block

We've all had to wait for something but in the age of digital technology, as long as you have a cellphone or wifi, life is easy. But what if that's what you're waiting for? Pure chaos! In Judith Leora's Gideon, Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot gets an update when roommates Aria and Zoe literally wait for the cable guy. And on their wait, they get a chance to look at the absurdity of life.
Gideon is an absurd comedy where reality gets drenched in the surreal as Aria and Zoe wait for the notorious Gideon the Cable Guy. After days of living in a black hole of technology, they are at the breaking point as their savior seems to be evading them. Along their wait, Aria and Zoe get visited by their whacky neighbors including airhead ditz Harriet and the rowdy Russian Ms. Banaszewski and her autistic step daughter Eden. Like Godot, the action of Gideon is wound up in the action of waiting. The text talks in circles, often repeating the monotony. But that's what happens when you run out of things to say. Gideon isn't necessarily groundbreaking but it does offer a cool commentary on our obsession with technology. With that being a prevalent there, finding a way to incorporate it into Aria and Zoe's story would have been a good opportunity. What happens instead is the plot gets too crazy and Gideon loses steam. When things go off the rails, Leora's credibility goes down the black hole.
photo by Bruce A. Kraemer
Director Joan Kane infuses some big sitcom style that allows the real life moments to hit home. But in the craziness of comedy, something doesn't sit so well. And that's the characterization of Eden. Whatever the reason, to the wrong person, Eden could be seen as borderline offensive. Reigning in the character was greatly desired. But aside from that, Kane's vision was spot on. And it all comes down to the design. The cardboard apartment was smartly designed and realized by G. Warren Stiles. It was simple yet evocative. The lights vocabulary was consistent. They were drab when it was just the duo but a burst of color was added when the neighbors popped in. The consistency of the device proved that there was a clear and concise vision from Joan Kane.
As an ensemble, Kane took their characters to the extreme. But when the humanity shined through, that's when Gideon resonated. The strongest at balancing absurdity with reality was Rachel Cora Wood as Zoe. Wood was funny yet was the voice of reason. Her timing was on point and had immense chemistry with whoever her scene partner was. When it came to the kooky, Connie Castanzo nailed it as tech and trend obsessed Harriet. Castanzo’s timing allowed her to earn every single laugh. It was one of those performances that you couldn’t imagine anyone else doing as well.
Gideon delivered on the promise of being fun and entertaining. Through the laughter was something profound. Gideon was the example of how to do Planet Connections Theatre Festivity right.

1 comment:

  1. It's A travesty that this didn't mention Phoebe Torres who played Zoe. He ability to channel someone with depression ( which was a main part of the play) but not make them all about being sad and alone was beautiful. she was simple and brought justice to her character. not sure how this actress could be skipped when she never left the stage once and her talent was booming.

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