Friday, November 25, 2005
T.I.D.Y (Beck Center)
‘T.I.D.Y.’ has some funny moments at Beck
Eric Coble, considered by many to be the local playwright laureate, has hit the big time. He’s an entry in ‘Wikipedia,’ the on-line encyclopedia. You can also probe him for personal information on ‘Answers.com.’ Theatre Communications Group honored him in their article “Seven Playwrights to Watch.”
Coble, whose newest play ‘T.I.D.Y.’ is being staged at Beck Center, is a member of the Playwrights' Unit of the Cleveland Play House. His past works include:
‘TEN MINUTES FROM CLEVELAND’ (which premiered at Dobama Theater), ‘SOUND BITING,’ ‘ISOLATED INCIDENTS,’ ‘BRIGHT IDEAS’ (which had a New York off Broadway production, as well as a Cleveland run), ‘PINOCCHIO 3.5,’ ‘CINDERELLA CONFIDENTIAL,’ ‘SACAGAWEA,’ ‘VIRTUAL DEVOTION,’ ‘TRUTH: THE TESTIMONIAL OF SOJOURNER TRUTH,’ ‘IN A GROVE: FOUR JAPANESE GHOST STORIES,’ and ‘NIGHTFALL WITH EDGAR ALLAN POE.’
Coble, who has an affinity for storytelling, often displays a wonderful spirited creativity. Some of this may have come from his upbringing on the Navaho and Ute reservations of New Mexico and Colorado where he spent time wandering around in what he once described as an “Indiana Jones setting,” which encouraged his imagination to run wild.
Anyone who has seen Coble’s ‘BRIGHT IDEAS,’ which tells the tale of parents who will stop at nothing to enroll their child in the “perfect” preschool, realizes his off-the-wall thought processes and an ability to play with words.
Coble often turns to classic sources as well as fairy tales and social issues and political intrigue for his inspiration. ‘T.I.D.Y.’ has a conspiracy base, which works perfectly in this year’s political atmosphere of who outed an FBI agent, was the public misled by G. W. Bush’s “evil empire” and the neo-cons about the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, or their tie to the terrorism that destroyed the World Trade Center.
The basic story centers on Emily Danbert, a computer geek, whose quiet life is totally thrown into chaos when T.I.D.Y., a program she developed, becomes the center of a global conspiracy. Matters really get out of hand when her “sweet” old mother, her husband, her best friend and a mysterious confident all get involved in the intrigue.
The concept is a delight. Unfortunately, the play and the production don’t live up to the premise. Though filled with some delightful moments, the play’s pieces-parts don’t always flow together well. There are segments where the action zooms right along, others where there are lulls. Some of the problem lies with director Roger Truesdell, who has paced the production much too slowly. This has to be a Marx Brothers romp, a farce on speed. Instead, we get a car race followed by a pony trot, followed by acceleration, and then more plodding.
The cast is generally excellent. Sarah Morton develops a nice textured roll as the obsessive compulsive left-brained nerd whose personal and professional life lacks much excitement until she becomes the center of an international conspiracy plot. Kevin Joseph Kelly plays multi-roles with comic delight. His highlight is a portrayal of an ice cream salesman who can hardly contain his exasperation while Morton’s character continually changes her order. Rhoda Rosen, as the mother turned international hit man, is hysterical. She gives a perfect Ethel Mertz impersonation. Nicholas Koesters makes for a fine ex-husband trying hard to come back into his former wife’s life. Tracey Field could have had more fun and exaggerated her role of the mysterious confident, as could have Alison Garrigan as the friendly fellow worker turned bad.
Don McBride’s multi-level set design basically works, but the constant need to move furniture around slowed down the show’s pace.
As the program states, “Anyone in the United Sates today who isn’t paranoid must be crazy.” After watching ‘T.I.D.Y’ you’ll be even more paranoid. Or, as the bumper sticker on my car says, “If you aren’t appalled, you haven’t been paying attention.
CAPSULE JUDGEMENT: ‘T.I.D.Y.’ isn’t up to Coble’s ‘BRIGHT IDEAS,’ but it has some good laughs. Too bad both the script and pacing couldn’t have had a little more “oomph.”