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    2008-2009 reviews:
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    Mega-woe maniac

    Mega-woe is us when the hero of "Gemini," a mental patient loose in the asylum, inflicts a torrent of nonsense on his captive audience.


    Joe has delusions of grandeur, which is why he's gathered all of us here tonight. Taking the stage in front of his captive audience, he tells 10 stories — at least, he thinks they're stories — and 10 jokes — at least he thinks they're jokes. Actually, they're just flights of fancy, if not total gibberish. Gradually it becomes clear where we are: Joe is the inmate who's taken over the asylum, and we in the audience are cast in the roles of the hospital staff that he's somehow subdued, restrained, and forced to listen to his megalomaniacal ravings.

    Written by: Edward Manning.
    Directed by: David Kennedy.
    Cast: Kenneth Wilson-Harrington.
    Joe lets us in on his plan to become a fascist dictator — not to worry, only a moderate fascist dictator — and by the end of the show he seems to be achieving his nefarious goal with a moderately despotic speech to the masses. But none of this performance seems to add up to much by this point. "Gemini" one of the numerous recent plays on New York stages in which scripts bordering on disjointed nonsense challenge the viewer's powers of comprehension. In rare instances, this approach offers enough intrigue to pull in the audience in (as in "Angry Little People" at last year's Fringe Festival). But usually the impression is that the playwright just slapped together his notes and didn't bother to make an actual play out of it.

    That's how "Gemini" seems. Despite an engaging performance by Kenneth Wilson-Harrington, there's no insight in the play about either the mind of a fascist dictator or the psychology of his followers. If that's supposed to be the subject of the play, it doesn't happen. Perhaps the real point of the play is to give the audience a certain feeling of being at the mercy of such a maniac — which is true, to the extent that people don't get up and leave, they stick around out of respect to the performers and the anticipation of some dramatic payoff. If we're captives of some dictator, it's the dictatorship of polite audience manners.

    JANUARY 30, 2001

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