Just Do Art: “Show Up” and “Hi-Fi | Wi-Fi | Sci-Fi”
SHOW UP: A SPONTANEOUS COMEDY ABOUT YOU | Last seen by this publication in the basement performance space of Triple Crown Ale House — where his chipper but talent-challenged character Lance soldiered through a one-man show to which a bevy of invited megastars failed to attend — comedy coach (and skilled practitioner) Peter Michael Marino moves one block away and two floors up for his latest endeavor.
The PIT Loft is the place to be, as Marino manages to “Show Up” without ever phoning it in. That’s mighty impressive for a guy who recently outed himself as suffering from the sort of social anxiety that makes it far more tempting to stay at home watching documentaries about space aliens rather than taking the stage, looking people in the eye, and engaging them in rapid-fire conversation. So goes the deceptively simple device that fuels this often silly, occasionally searing, ultimately affectionate send-up of solo theater performances, interpersonal communication, and the bendable nature of truth.
At last week’s show, after the abovementioned schmoozing — during which the audience provided a laundry list of highly personal details — Marino used those quirks to improvise the epic saga of Otto, a Russian/Mexican lad with a crippling sugar addiction, a scandal-plagued sibling, dreams of big city glory, and a knack for creating fantastic, Wonka-like sweets from household throwaways. All the while, beneath Otto’s sweet but dim monkey mind façade, Marino was in chess master mode: absorbing the many plot points he’d just commissioned, then orchestrating those wildly disparate moving parts toward a logical end (using traits of order and empathy, he noted, that come with his social anxiety). Adding to the absurdity was a second wave of audience participation: random sound cues, and rearranged set pieces every time Otto stopped the action to hydrate. Unlike that hackneyed device familiar to anyone who’s ever suffered through a less-than-stellar solo show, Marino made each sip of water seem like a breath of fresh air.
“Show Up” plays Thurs., Feb. 9, 16, & 23 at 8pm, and Sun., Feb. 12 at 5pm. At The PIT Loft (154 W. 29th St., btw. Sixth & Seventh Aves.). For tickets ($15), visit thepit-nyc.com. Aritst info at petermmarino.com.
HI-FI | WI-FI | SCI-FI: PREDICTIONS PAST PRESENT AND FUTURE | Pity the poor futurist who lives to see his fantastic visions come to pass. More often than not, the sweet distinction of being ahead of the curve comes with a bitter, unpredictable, “Twilight Zone”-like twist. Such ironies, both cool and cruel, bounce off every image and object as you walk through the satisfyingly interactive, genuinely immersive experience that brings finely calibrated, cutting-edge tech to the decades-old, forward-looking work of playwright Robert Patrick.
An all-too-rare success story within the realm of multi-media endeavors that bite off more than they can chew only to serve little worth digesting, “Hi-Fi | Wi-Fi |Sci-Fi” is a multi-room presentation of La MaMa’s CultureHub art and technology center. Hub artistic director Billy Clark co-directs alongside Peabody award-winning artist Jason Trucco, with live performances beamed in from Seoul, as guided by Korean director Park II Kyu. Together with a nimble and intense five-member cast appearing live and in the electronic ether, this communal experience (which includes a communion of sorts) is worth the trip — but those perfectly synchronized speakers and screens within the 360-degree setting aren’t the only selling point.
Beyond the impressive physical presentation are those sparse, cerebral, and, it turns out, disturbingly predictive scenarios of the playwright. From 1968’s time delay courtship kerfuffle “Camera Obscura” to 1981’s “All in The Mind” (which handily beats “The Matrix” when it comes to critiquing the hive mind mentality), to a new world premiere and an endearing stab at crooning from a surprise guest, this triple “Fi” is one blast from the past you’ll be chewing on long into the future — if there is such a thing.
Through Feb. 19: Thurs., Fri., Sat. at 8pm, Sun. at 3pm; at The Downstairs at La MaMa (66 E. Fourth St., btw. Bowery & Second Ave.). For tickets ($25, $20 for students/seniors), visit lamama.org or call 212-352-3101.
—BY SCOTT STIFFLER