Rehearsals are underway for the revival of Natalie Menna's "Occasionally Nothing" directed by Ivette Dumeng and Produced by Robert Greer. This award winning production is a an example of Theatre of the Absurd, set in a dismal futuristic landscape and examining the rituals that either keep us sane or make us mad. It goes up at The Theater for the New City's DREAM UP FESTIVAL September 8-16 and stars Brad Fryman, Sean Hoagland and myself.
Critic Anthony P. Penning (The Modernist Beat) praised "Menna's sure command of the tools of the Theatre of the Absurd," writing, "Menna focuses not on political polemics but on the spiritual and emotional devastation that our less-than-brave new world is wreaking. The writing here is spare, brutal, and emotionally resonant." He praised the dialogue as crackling with energy and wit, and concluded, "Most artists have game-changing works, a piece that catapults them to the next level of their medium; 'Occasionally Nothing' is that work for Menna. The play clearly belongs to the same tradition of Beckett's 'End Game,' which does not rob it of its importance or necessity. It speaks to the dark shadows of the 21st-century in a vibrant and yes comic voice. It should be seen."
Critic Edmond Malin (Outer Stage) compares the characters' speech to the denial of truth in our present political dialogue. They talk, he writes, "only in a captivating double speak which they have presumably needed to adopt because of bad political developments. 'Is something ever nothing?' they ask. 'Sometimes.' If this sounds like splitting hairs, just remember who got elected last year and keep reading. Such discourse and the 'endgame' which the men fear is approaching bring to mind the great Samuel Beckett. His work seems to work best in dark times. But when are we? Clay enjoys listening to 80s music, even during the apocalypse using his last battery. At one point, he suggests listening to the band New Order, which had been banned by the New World Order. What I mean to say is, pay attention and enjoy the dark humor." He quotes direct allusions to our present political situation that are, well, chilling. Under the "Grumpf" administration, the characters declare, "we've moved from discourse to dissent to verbal threats to violence...to silence."