Off-Off-Broadway Theater Review: BEEP BOOP (HERE)

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by Dmitry Zvonkov on September 24, 2018

in Theater-New York


Richard Saudek’s one man show beep boop begins with a man struggling to break through an elastic translucent membrane. He succeeds and is born — spit out of a womb — emerging dressed like a Brooklyn millennial and holding a smartphone. What follows is a brilliant display of mime and clown craft by Mr. Saudek as, under Wes Grantom’s sharp direction, he takes us on a mesmerizing satirical odyssey of a man’s obsession with his various social-media devices — phone, tablet, laptop — until he is literally consumed by them.

Immersed in his phone the man navigates busy sidewalks, dangerous intersections, a subway in rush hour, an empty apartment, all without ever taking his eyes off the LCD screen. Rendered with mime these familiar spaces and situations take on a delightfully whimsical quality. They also acquire a very real material feel. I can still remember the protagonist’s kitchen, the cabinets, the refrigerator, the sink. I even remember their color. Even though there was none of that stuff on the stage.

Mr. Saudek, who does not utter a single intelligible word during the performance, does get some useful help from Nora Kaye who sits off to the side with a laptop playing sound effects and music, as well a serving as a kind of benevolently omniscient feminine presence. And Driscoll Otto’s clever lighting design adds texture and variety to the spectacle.

Only on two occasions did I feel lost as to precisely what was being communicated. But these were very brief instances and were probably my own fault. What could use a little work is the drama, specifically around the middle part of this 60-minute production. Mr. Saudek digresses more than once from the central storyline, and while these scenes work in themselves they slow down the show as a whole and dilute the protagonist’s struggle.

That said, beep boop is a charming invention, and Mr. Saudek a delight to watch as he uses his body, his face, and his hands to create a little universe that is lovely and funny and touching and a little bit sad.

photos by Jeremy Daniel

beep boop
Crowded Outlet
HERE, 145 6th Ave
(enter on Dominick, 1 block south of Spring)
Tues-Sat at 7; Sat & Sun at 2
ends on October 7, 2018
for tickets ($25), call 212.352.3101 or visit HERE

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