The Atomic View Motel, Boxer Rebellion Theater. There’s an art to writing satire without ruffling anyone’s feathers: you have to make the most commonly held beliefs sound rare and wonderful and never, never, never reveal anything new about the culture we live in. LA-based playwright Scott Seiffert has mastered this art.
The Atomic View Motel begins with all the old cliches about 50s families. Dad is a hollow man, mom is a neurotic neat freak, sis and bro are so clean-cut they squeak. They’ve come to the motel to see an atom bomb blast, and through unexplained means their reality becomes enmeshed with a similarly cliched 90s family: sis is a slut, bro is a goth, mom is a neurotic workaholic, and dad–well, dad is gone, replaced by a New Age-besotted Milquetoast. For two hours Seiffert repeats all the truisms about the 50s and today, creating a less interesting knockoff of Pleasantville or Blast From the Past.
Seiffert’s dialogue has the chipper wittiness of a good sitcom, though his plot turns are sometimes too predictable. And like a good sitcom writer he needs a great cast to give his words the illusion of a third dimension. He does not have one here: director Steven Young has assembled a group of shouters, scenery chompers, and punch-line telegraphers. A few fine performances survive the chaos–John Carter Brown in particular makes a great Robert Young-like Dad. But they’re not enough to make it worth checking in to this motel.