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      The Statue
    Statue of limitations

    Despite some pretty good ideas about a future in which New York's best-known monuments are privately owned play spots for the rich and well-connected, "The Statue" never quite seems human enough to hold our attention.


    In "The Statue," playwright Alison Weiss imagines a Gotham of the future in which every New York institution from Bank One Central Park to the Statue of Liberty has long since been put in private hands and reserved for only those with the taste, discernment — and big bucks — to properly appreciate it.

    Written by: Alison Weiss.
    Directed by: Sasha Sagan.
    Cast: Alison Weiss, Lucas Beck, P.J. Dempsey, William DePaolo, Salvatore Brienik, Dalia Ermann, David J. Sporer.
    Bank Street Theater
    155 Bank Street
    Aug. 8-24, 2003

    We come upon "The Statue," as the exclusive nightspot is now fashionably known, at a critical moment in the next century — the unplanned-for year when the long-term private leases on the city's landmarks are all about to expire. Suddenly there's the danger that ordinary, unscreened citizens will be allowed to tour The Statue, eat at its exclusive restaurant, party at the fabled Crown Bar. A city politician spearheads this reform campaign in a naked attempt to win popular votes in the upcoming mayoral election. Perhaps the wall will even be removed around Manhattan and inner Brooklyn that keeps Us in here and Them out there. To the staff, this cannot be allowed to happen.

    The play does have a smart concept, contemporary relevance and some decent writing — especially some of the quick-hit one-liners. (Radio announcement: "Please report anyone who appears to have an air of guiltiness." Corporate slogan: "Bank One — literally, the one bank.") The dialogue is cleverly peppered with made-up corporatisms and slang of the future. ("Youthwash" = facelift. "Will you refresh?" = Get a clue.) But somehow it never clicks. We barely connect with the characters or the situation. As with a lot of works set in the distant future, it's hard to create a believable environment and simultaneously maintain the characters' humanity — and the Fringe Festival's technical limitations don't help. Perhaps much more elaborate staging and effects would actually give us a believable trendy Statue of Liberty hotspot of the 22nd century, but there's no guarantee the additional effort would be worth it.

    AUGUST 19, 2003

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