Off Broadway Theater Review: BLAME IT ON BECKETT (Abingdon Theatre Company)

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by Charles Day on October 17, 2011

in Theater-New York

INTERN(AL) AFFAIRS

We all know that having sexual relations with an intern will get you in a heap of trouble, be it in the Oval Office or at a fictitious regional theatre company. Blame It On Beckett is playwright John Morogiello’s take on such indiscretions, and the theme takes center stage under the competent direction of Jackob G. Hofmann, in the Abingdon Theater Company’s production at the Dorothy Strelsin Theatre.

Jim Foley is an aging, disenchanted dramaturg (convincingly played by Warren Kelley), with the brash, shallow, “I’m so over this” affect of someone Blame It On Beckett by John Morogiello - Abingdon Theatre Company - directed by Jackob Hofmann – Off Broadway Theater Review by Charles Daywho’s been in the biz way too long and never achieved the success he desperately desired. His small office (set design by Andrew Lu) overflows with half empty coffee cups and mountains of manuscripts he won’t bother to read, although he’ll occasionally use their pages to wipe up spills. Jim believes that the plethora of pathetic plays cluttering his office can be blamed on countless English professors encouraging their talentless students to become the next Samuel Beckett.

Blame It On Beckett by John Morogiello - Abingdon Theatre Company - directed by Jackob Hofmann – Off Broadway Theater Review by Charles DayOpportunity crosses his threshold in the form of Heidi Bishop (Lori Gardner), a young, bright-eyed idealist (is there any other kind?), who will do anything to be in Jim’s shoes, since she sees his job as an invaluable opportunity to nurture emerging playwrights. Anxious to think outside the box office, Heidi is happy to tackle the tower of scripts in Jim’s office. She secures her position as an intern after meeting John Braschi (Mark Doherty), the theater’s head honcho. John lays the groundwork for his own covert agenda by convincing Heidi to keep a journal to document everything that needs improving at the theatre.

Blame It On Beckett by John Morogiello - Abingdon Theatre Company - directed by Jackob Hofmann – Off Broadway Theater Review by Charles DayMs. Gardner gives a solid performance as the ever hopeful Heidi, a quintessential ingénue – to wit, a dreamer who’s been bitten by the theater bug and wants to partake of its magic – unaware of the artistic compromises necessary to keep a theater running.

Despite charming performances by Gardner and Doherty, Blame It On Beckett is only moderately funny and reveals nothing new. It’s the oft-seen story of an inexperienced, seemingly naive subordinate who employs dirty tactics in order to reach her goal. Here, Heidi pretends not to have known that her actions would hurt her boss, albeit a brief moment when our girl pauses to question the task she’s been given (but she decides to go through with it anyway).

Blame It On Beckett by John Morogiello - Abingdon Theatre Company - directed by Jackob Hofmann – Off Broadway Theater Review by Charles DayAt one point, Heidi shares a kiss with Tina Fike, the company’s resident lesbian playwright, played by Anne Newhall. This moment seems superfluous to the story, and as such, comes off as forced and trite. Overall, Morogiello’s writing shows promise; however, it would be nice to see him turn a new page with the clichés so often attributed to interns.

photos by Anthony J. Merced

Blame It On Beckett
Abingdon Theatre Company at the Dorothy Strelsin Theatre
Scheduled to end on October 30
For tickets, visit http://www.abingdontheatre.org

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