by Joan Kane · August 26, 2015
Jen Jacob with Michael DeBartolo and John C. Nagy III | Melissa Balan
I saw The American Play on August 21 at the Sgouros Theatre as part of the 2015 New York International Fringe Festival. Presented by Elizabeth Sarkady and Ashley J. Jacobson of the feminist theater company The Dirty Blondes. It is a must see play.
Ashley J. Jacobson’s script presents an intriguing and believable idea in which two college students obsess about a work of fiction from popular culture and refer to it as their manifesto. Tim and Luis meet in an American literature class on a college campus. They worship the power driven character, Bateman in the novel American Psycho. Tim is a poor kid from a trailer park somewhere. Luis is sexy and controlled and decides he is going to “school” Tim in how to be like the pathologically violent Bateman. He uses “You want. You take” as his mantra to instruct Tim about how easy and simple it is to obtain his desired power over the world he inhabits. In an attempt to impress Luis, Tim violently assaults his high school friend, Shelly. The play is inspired by actual texts from online commentary and media coverage of college rapes.
The action takes place in various locations that include college classrooms, bars and bedrooms. Director Darren Johnston does an excellent job using stylized dance moves to transition from location to location and keep the action moving smoothly, obtaining deep and honest performances from Michael DeBartolo, Jen Jacob and John Charles Nagy. The scenic and lighting design by Jonathan Cottle created a dangerous world. Jacob Subotnick’s sound design included ominous, unrelenting background of technological sounds. Jordan Harrison’s use of on line texts and real time projections indicted the role of technology in the objectification of women.
I liked the concept of this show. Some people really do style their lives around inappropriate cultural phenomena. This is a cautionary tale, told with panache and zeal.