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    Mono culture

    "Mono" is a theatrical nightclub scene which — like a real nightclub scene with its numerous little comedies and idiocies — takes place all around you and makes you a part of it.


    (Originally reviewed at Surf Reality in 2002.)

    Coming out of "Mono," a woman with an inexplicably accusatory tone and apparently a daughter in the cast asked me, "Can you tell me what that was all about?"

    Written and directed by: Steven Tanenbaum.
    Cast: Lee Briggs, Kena Cuesta, Sera Demira, Gabriela Garcia, Yasu Ikeda, Lawrence Jansen, Tricia McAlpin, Nick Paglino, Kerri Tucker, Donan Whelan, Dai Ishiquro, Tara Pesce, Maya Macdonald.

    Related links: Official site
    Theatre Row
    410 West 42nd St. (btw. 9th & 10th Aves.)
    Jan. 29 - June 26, 2004

    Well, I'm not the one with the family connection, but, uh, sure. It's about anything and nothing. It's not about what's said so much as the experience of being in it.

    And be in it you will. The play takes place in a makeshift nightclub, with a real cocktail waitress serving real drinks, and your seat is as much a part of the scene as the ones where the actors are scattered throughout the room. Be prepared. Somebody might decide to talk to you, and you're meant to join in.

    Just be yourself and don't count on out-cooling these dozen or so club kids. From different parts of the room come snappy little bon mots about sex and doomed relationships and rejection and sex and show-biz careers and psychological torment and sex and whether mom would approve of this. And, of course, sex. What else would be on a bunch of twenty-something clubgoers' minds?

    There are the obviously cool kids — like the disdainfully superior girl at a back table who's already dumped one guy and has to practically boff another one in the chair right next to him for the message to sink in. Then there are the uncool kids — like the speechless wallflower who shrinks in terror from guys trying to chat her up but finds unlikely romance with a cigarette-smoking, beret-wearing, French-accented, normally inanimate object.

    And then there are those (representing, I imagine, a large share of actual club kids) who have no idea they're not cool. "Did you see the way she was coming on to me?" enthuses a tall thin guy in leather pants who's living in his own reality. "I thought I was real suave about it. I think it's a sign. It's like everybody automatically knows that tonight is my night!"

    The snippety dialogue eventually yields a few clues to the characters' true identities and deeper selves, but not many. Mostly, the play is about the experience of having it go on around you. It's a staged parody of actually being in a busy nightclub, where dozens of things are happening at once, everybody is on the make, everybody feels like one of the beautiful people for a night, and snatches of conversation come from every direction — some funny, some inane.

    If you spend the whole evening wondering what, on a literal, dramatic level, is happening, you may walk out of the theater accosting people at random to ask, "Can you tell me what that was all about?" But if you relax, maybe have a drink, do some people-watching and play along, it's definitely good fun.

    JANUARY 14, 2003

    Reader comments on Mono:

  • saw Mono - Wow!   from Daniele Miner, Apr 1, 2003
  • Trying to Find Paglino (Nogger)   from Mark, Jun 17, 2003
  • This is a MUST-SEE!   from Tony Brandisen, Jun 18, 2003
  • Trying to Find LAWRENCE JANSEN   from Frank Calabro, Jan 30, 2004
  • Kerri Tucker   from Ross LeeLum, Apr 9, 2004

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