As a massive research school, Stony Brook is always in need for more of the arts.
However, we are not yet “take what we can get” needy, which is what a rather disappointing production of “An Hour of David Ives” felt like.
Stony Brook’s Pocket Theatre put on a show consisting of three 10-minute comedies on September 17 and 18. The first and last performances were overshadowed by the middle, which positively tanked.
I am the first to say I had very high hopes for this show. I love the Pocket Theatre. I think they usually put on fun, dynamic shows, and I initially went in expecting the best.
My high hopes perished when an alright first performance lead into a production of “Words, Words, Words” that got a grand total of four collective laughs from the audience. If that sounds like a lot in the span of 10 minutes, it really did not feel like it.
“Words, Words, Words” is a play revolving around three monkeys being used to test out the infinite monkey theorem, which states that a monkey hitting a keyboard at random for an infinite amount of time will eventually produce a given text, such as Shakespeare’s Hamlet. What was probably a play meant to comment on society ended up coming across as comically cringe-worthy and nothing more.
While I was watching the show go on, I was only acutely aware of the fact that I was sitting there watching three adults with tails strapped onto their clothes roll around on the floor and comment on society. No one is supposed to be magically transported to a world in which disbelief is suspended.Those adults with tails totally can be talking monkeys when the lights go down, but it would have been nice to not have been so aware of what was literally happening. The lack of any sort of believability is what crushed the show for me.
Look, comedy is hard. It’s hard to stand in front of a crowd of blank-faced strangers and make them laugh at what you’re doing. But it can be done, and it is done.
While “Words, Words, Words” flopped, the following performance, “Babel’s in Arms,” was significantly better. Sean Farrell and Logan Becker, who provided those few laughs in that second performance, played off one another quite nicely. They developed a quick, witty rapport and carried it throughout the rest of the show. A highlight of this particular portion was when the fourth wall was purposefully broken and they stepped into the audience to bicker, even apologizing to those they had to walk in front of. When two actors can develop a believable relationship while still drawing attention to the fact that they are acting, they’ve put on something pretty special.
“An Hour of David Ives” left me disappointed overall, but I sincerely chalk it up to an unfortunate choice in a middle show. The first show, “Sure Thing,” was not memorable enough to leave much of a lasting feeling, meaning the second show took on that first impression role for me. While “Babel’s in Arms” highlighted the excellent acting Pocket Theatre frequently puts out, “Words, Words, Words” left such a sour taste in my mouth that I remember the overall show in a negative light.
Stony Brook’s Pocket Theatre is usually a hard-hitter, but I’m sad to say that this one was a miss.