Gang of Seven

by Jim Neu

directed by Keith McDermott

l-r: Mary Shultz, Jim Neu, Byron Thomas 

"Gang of Seven," a new comedy by Jim Neu, rips the lid off the dynamics, delusions, and dangers of the focus group movement sweeping across America. The play cunningly anticipates what will happen when ordinary gatherings for market research get infected with the human potential movement. Alone, this play's "Gang of Seven" are harmless normal citizens. Together, their volatile mix of personal chemistries creates an explosive brew of attitude, greed and collective identity. They are so empowered with team spirit that they begin to feel omnipotent. We see them pushing their mental envelopes, re-imagining their group as the grand information assembler, chosen to reorder reality for the country, or maybe the world. The play is a fascinating satire of business doublespeak. The euphemistic language of marketing executives is adopted as ideology by the members of this media-saturated group, who swoon for such "future" ideas as "Facadism" and the "Mythosphere." Power is found in the reordering of information. Nostalgia, for them, is remembering their parents filling in product surveys with a ballpoint pen. They unify behind a business idea--The Reality Bowl--with a leader who boasts, "everything Iíve ever done has been right on the cutting edge of legitimate." Their ride into the euphoria of this value proposition is the journey of the play. The cast is a unique mix of Neu veterans, relative newcomers and first-timers: Mary Shultz, Tony Nunziata, Chris Maresca, John Costelloe, Byron Thomas, Kristine Lee and, of course, Jim Neu. The production is directed by Keith McDermott (his ninth Jim Neu play) and has music by Harry Mann. Sets are by David Fritz and costumes are by Meg Zeder. Neu's last production was "La Vie Noir" (La MaMa, 2007), in which a group of star-crossed, film-smitten barflies are trapped in a rooftop lounge with a tornado is heading their way. Bracing for the collision, they escape into a collective fantasy world of lonely streetlights, smart talk, killer shadows and wet footsteps. Time Out (Robert Simonson) declared, "For a film-noir parody with some teeth to it, forget Christopher Durang's limp Adrift in Macao and try downtown ironist Jim Neu's La Vie Noir instead. Whereas Durang only gets a knowing chuckle out of the genre's stylistic contrivances, Neu knows that the world of fedoras, shady ladies and rain-swept sidewalks has been creeping into our consciousness for decades." Jim Neu's writing has mined the rich vein of irony, contradiction, and absurdity in American popular culture since the late '70s. His gift is to make us laugh at what it's like to have your mind run by those who explain life second-hand. He wrote a whole play, "Situation Room," on how market researchers might target a group of actors to investigate leisure behavior. He has found Hollywood's hard-sold fantasies to be even more provocative, so whether itís spy films ("Undercurrent Incorporated"), westerns ("Target Audience: The Code of the Western"), detective movies ("Mondo Beyondo"), or Hollywood history ("Kiss Shot"), his comedies have shown how generations of monetized entertainment have altered our attitudes, behavior and reality. He does it with a complex and distinctive style of language. Neu has been called "the Oscar Wilde of the Postverbal Generation." He is a master of deadpan circumlocution and the elliptical take on language. It makes for brilliant dialogue and a minimalist comedy style that is all Neu's own.

Performances: 

 12/4/2008 at 8:00pm
 12/5/2008 at 8:00pm
 12/6/2008 at 8:00pm
 12/7/2008 at 2:30pm
 12/7/2008 at 8:00pm
 12/11/2008 at 8:00pm
 12/12/2008 at 8:00pm
 12/13/2008 at 8:00pm
 12/14/2008 at 2:30pm
 12/14/2008 at 8:00pm
 12/18/2008 at 8:00pm
 12/19/2008 at 8:00pm
 12/20/2008 at 8:00pm
 12/21/2008 at 2:30pm
 12/21/2008 at 8:00pm

Theatre/Venue La MaMa Experimental Theatre 

74A East 4th St  New York

Phone Number for Reservations 212-475-7710 
Website for reservations www.lamama.org  
Running time 1hr. 0min. 

 

Producing Organization: LaMaMa Experimental Theater Club  
Website www.lamama.org  
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