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    A Waiter's Nightmare

    Read the Offoffoff review

    Theatergoers who are used to barking for service in bistros and beaneries will have plenty of practice for their role in "A Waiter's Nightmare," an audience-interactive, long-form, improvised play which is the latest creation of Freestyle Repertory Theatre. When the house lights go down, Freestyle Rep will prove that you can order a play like you order dinner. Laura Livingston, acting the role of Headwaiter, will ask the audience for character choices and plot development. As "Diner" meets "Who's Line Is It Anyway?," a host of ingenious plays will be born, each week's being different from the week before. The company is made up of people who can spin a full-length onstage saga out of "Waiter, there's a head in my soup!" To raise the stakes, they are cultivating the professional audience, offering one free ticket to any New York food service professional who calls Artvoice at (212) 595-3258 and declares the eatery of their employment. (No authentication is required; it's on the honor system.) Such patrons will be allowed to foment patronage by distributing their boss's matches, take-out menus, etc. to theatergoers who are sitting around them. The production developed out of Freestyle Rep's "An Order of Chaos" (2001). In that long-form improvisational production, Ms. Livingston, as the Headwaiter, solicited the audience to order a play by the course. There was a menu, but you were free to ask for anything off the top of your head. As the play rolled along, the gracious Headwaiter — off to the side — asked the audience for motivations, previous circumstances, changes in location, choices of which characters should have scenes together, relationships, entrances and exits. The play was even structured with exposition, complication, crisis, resolution and denouement corresponding to the courses of a dinner. "A Waiter's Nightmare" aims to improve the formula by bending it toward a more diabolically evocative theme line which everyone can relate to. If you've ever fallen in love in a restaurant, or been ejected for drunkenness, you'll have ready-made audience input. Recognizing that a full-length play may require re-writes, Freestyle Rep will allow you to send back any scene you don't like. Says Livingston, "If you ever knew a restaurant where the cook fell in love with the wrong waitress, don't worry, because in this one, you can change it." If all this fun makes you hungry, you'll have to go out after the show to a neighboring bistro, though, because all the food in the show is mimed.

    Dates:  Jan. 12, 2003 - March 30, 2003
    Schedule:  Sun. 7 p.m.
    Venue:  Trilogy Theatre, 341 West 44th St
    Price:  $12
    Official site:
    Tickets/info:  (212) 206-1515

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