Off-Off-Broadway Theater Review: LITTLE MAC, LITTLE MAC, YOU’RE THE VERY MAN! (Less Than Rent at the Kraine Theater)

by Dmitry Zvonkov on April 7, 2014

in Theater-New York

MAC THE DULL KNIFE

Under Charlie Polinger’s unremarkable direction, the often charming cast of Sean Patrick Monahan and James Presson’s vacuous tongue-in-cheek musical comedy Little Mac, Little Mac, You’re the Very Man! is unable to transcend the show’s systemic failings, never managing to elevate it to the level of being watchable.

Ashley Denise Robinson and Tom Sanchez in Less Than Rent's "Little Mac, Little Mac, You’re the Very Man!"

Based on John Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera (which in turn became Brecht and Weill’s The Threepenny Opera), the story tells of Mac (an appropriately understated Tom Sanchez), a Wild West outlaw who, after a bout of drunkenness, finds himself married to the mayor’s daughter (a delightful Rachel B. Joyce) and engaged to the sheriff’s (Ashley Denise Robinson). Chased out of town by both sheriff (Cory Asinofsky) and mayor (the capable Ben Diserens), Mac embarks on an adventure through the geography and history of the United States of America.

Alex Kramer, Joe Flynn and Lance Lemon in Less Than Rent's "Little Mac, Little Mac, You’re the Very Man!"

He inherits a farm from his grandfather Old Macdonald (a game Joe Flynn) and opens a MacDonald’s restaurant, changing his own name to Big Mac. He builds a robot to keep track of his apples and calls it Macintosh. He meets with a gang of big shots – Henry Ford, Bernie Madoff, Al Gore, Bill Gates, Benjamin Franklin – but they find him too honest to join their club. He meets gangsters (Al Capone, Hymen Roth, et al), sports figures (Michelle Kwan, Tiger Woods, Wayne Gretzky), politicians, and D. W. Griffith. He spends some unhappy time being black, and he finds himself unable to afford a medical procedure.

Lance Lemon and Rachel B. Joyce in Less Than Rent's "Little Mac, Little Mac, You’re the Very Man!"

What potential for satire there is in Little Mac is never realized; the playwrights’ comments and observations are all so cheap, trite and muddled as to be wholly worthless. Historical figures are rendered as stick-figure caricatures that don’t look like anything, and the logic behind their juxtaposition is mystifying. What, for instance, do Bernie Madoff and Benjamin Franklin have in common? So frivolous is the writing in fact, the ideas so confused, that the play feels like it was written by mildly paranoid schizophrenics. Sarah Daniels, who sings and plays guitar, seems uninspired; the sense I get is that she can do better. As for the lyrics and Alexander Sage Oyen’s original music, these are less than memorable.

Jillian Rorrer and Tom Sanchez in Less Than Rent's "Little Mac, Little Mac, You’re the Very Man!"

An actor friend tells of, when he was a student, attending an actor’s workshop taught by David Mamet, and performing for Mamet a short piece he and his fellow fledgling thespians had written. When they were done Mamet’s only comment was to the effect: You’ll never learn anything doing material like that. Something similar can be said regarding Little Mac. With so many truly great plays out there, and with theatrical space and resources being in such short supply, it’s baffling to me why anyone would choose to produce this nonsense. Why?

Rachel B. Joyce and Matthew George in Less Than Rent's "Little Mac, Little Mac, You’re the Very Man!"

photos by Bruce Fuller

Little Mac, Little Mac, You’re the Very Man!
Less Than Rent production
presented by Horse Trade Theater Group
Kraine Theater
85 East 4th Street between 2nd Avenue and Bowery
scheduled to end on April 27, 2014
for tickets, call (212) 460-0982
or visit http://www.horsetrade.info/

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