Humor in Narcissism ‘ME LOVE ME’
By Marcina Zaccaria
‘Me Love Me’, presented at the NY International Fringe Festival, is a smart, satirical look at the moments of human crisis that erupt in the haze of LA drug culture.
Tuck Whitney, played by the able Benjamin Durham, is an actor on his rise to fame. Gemma, played by the affable Lizzie Adelman, keeps a firm house, while struggling with the ups and downs of Tuck’s career. Tuck meets his nemesis, a biological clone nicknamed Cluck that he later falls in love with. Tuck’s blatant narcissism is echoed and reinforced by his clone, played by Sto Strouss. As the relationships shift throughout the play, the ensemble deals with crisis in identity, the need for hope after loss, and the repercussions of what happens after everyone has had such a good time.
As we follow the love triangle, we take moments to laugh or be pleasantly surprised. The acting, capably directed by Lauren Ludwig and Marc Warzecha, is calculated, based in deep listening, and even in tone. Comfortable in the large space of the Players Theater, the actors are not lost without the scrutinizing close-ups of the television camera. They shine as they pill pop, argue, and slam around clichés about success and failure within the entertainment industry.
The writing is more realistic than avant-garde. The program notes that the play was created in collaboration with the cast, and the playwright is credited as Brandon Baruch. The play is complete, although the scenic design elements are spare and appear thrown together. Perhaps more attention could be paid to the ramshackle world, but bright green colored door frames and some fluorescent costumes provide a way for us to see through the dark.
Gemma’s monologue at the end of the play is a standout. Her AA inspired poetry is at home at The Players Theatre as it would be on the East Side, and her unique performance style blends gypsy images with memorable rhymes, quick beats, and a twinge of heart-ache. Monologues like those are some of the reasons why we go to the Festival. We look for that kind of gusto, innovation, and originality, and it keeps us returning to the NY International Fringe year after year.
‘Me Love Me’ is showing at The Players Theatre, located at 115 MacDougal Street, between Bleecker and West 3rd Street until Saturday, August 17th. It is being performed as part of the NY International Fringe Festival. Tickets are available by calling 866.468.7619 or visiting the website at www.FringeNYC.org.