The Zoo Story and Transmission, Fade to Black Theatre Troupe, at Stage Left Theatre. In the last two years I’ve seen five productions of Edward Albee’s absurdist classic, and frankly it’s hard to imagine anyone bringing anything new to the Zoo. Still, every few months another company like the recently formed Fade to Black Theatre Troupe delivers a production with a director too inexperienced and a cast way too young to mine the depths of Albee’s text.
This is not to say the Fade to Black folks are horrible. Barry Coker may not be intense enough to convince us he’s the deeply troubled Jerry, and Mark Macoun may utterly fail to communicate the contemptible weakness beneath Peter’s civilized veneer. But they certainly know their lines, even if they deliver many of them rather flatly, and they rarely bump into the furniture.
Coker and Macoun seem much more relaxed and sure of themselves in Transmission, a play about a man considering suicide by Zachary Davis (who directed Zoo Story but left the staging of his work to Hal Wehrenberg). In fits and starts they’re even compelling, though Davis’s play is not. The problem is that he doesn’t come up with enough action or wit to justify its half-hour length: the two characters stand around like cheap imitations of Didi and Gogo talking vaguely about this and that and occasionally arguing about whether killing oneself is a good idea.