Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Long overdue praise for Mac Rogers' VIRAL

Since I am months behind in blogging, I thought I would go ahead and be the last blogger on the planet to write a glowing review of Mac Rogers' VIRAL.

Yes, the show has closed. No, you can't go and see it now, even if I make it sound really good. Yes, this makes me very lame.

BUT . . . is there really an expiration date on praise? Is there? I don't think so.
VIRAL was part of the NY Fringe Fest and then part of the Festival Extension. Being generally late about things, I saw it on closing night. If I made a top plays of the year list, this play would be the top play for this year and next year, too. No matter what anyone does next year. I liked it that much. It is like a little theatrical virus-- you see it and you want to go out and infect other people into seeing it. As if you were a little Mac-germ, biologically programmed to think he is great and run around trying to osmose this idea into other people.

The play is a tour de force, lyrical tragedy with a dark comic candy-coating. Meredith (Amy Lynn Stewart) plays a life-weary woman who reaches out over the internet to three Pacific Northwest fringe-dwellers for help with her own euthanization. She turns to Geena (Rebecca Comtois), her boyfriend Colin (Kent Meister) and her brother Jarvis (Matthew Trumbull) who share a fetish for filming suicides as erotic art and posting the films on the internet. Mac crafts a haunting ode to the loneliness of all four characters. These are people who have tried and failed to connect with any external support systems and have lost themselves to dark and destructive fantasy. Meredith seems to be the most clear-headed and sympathetic one, her inevitable path to self-destruction is a seductive poison that leaves a bittersweet taste in the audience's mouth.

Rebecca Comtois and Amy Lynn Stewart were brilliant in this. Perfectly mirrored portraits of cringing insecurity and ferocious determination. And the script is simple one of the best-craft and best-realized visions you are likely to see. Or, ahem, likely to catch in the hopeful revival since I have blogged this too late to infect you with a need to go see it.

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