Self-Proclaimed Theatre Guru
From the minds that created “The Three Stooges Radio Drama” comes the best Off-Off-Broadway production of the year in its first premier outside of New York. Clarence Beck, the writer and co-producer, agreed to let Eldred Theater undergraduates put on the show while it’s still hot, especially after the copyright controversy last month. If the first preview tells us anything, this production will be the most distinguished feat that Case Western Reserve students have ever had the honor of accomplishing.
Based on the script of an unaired episode of the eponymous television landmark, “Seinfeld the Play” explores the vast detail of the human condition and finds a way to laugh at it. The play provides a profound sense of existence, leaving the raw, untouched reality of everyday life to breathe and gasp before the audience. It is certainly groundbreaking not only in comedy, but in reflecting on late 20th-century American culture.
It’s safe to say the writing reeks of genius humor. It’s chock-full of universal themes of awkwardness and irradiating sarcasm. From Elaine’s banter with her new boss only to realize she hates her guts, to George’s escapades with the delivery man and a wrongly addressed package, the dialogue is filled with characteristic cynicism and wit. Kramer, as always, layers on the absurdity. At one point, the audience sits through 10 minutes of Kramer sitting in a sauna with a notepad, chuckling to himself as he writes down a list of potential names for an egg-whipping machine.
The character acting is superb. Each actor draws out the bare emotion and hilarity of the TV icons they portray. The execution is dead on; Jerry Seinfeld himself would be set rolling on the floor, or maybe he’d just smile and nod. It’s easy to see how in an interview with CWRU junior James Watanabe, who plays Jerry in the show.
He expressed his appreciation for the role, saying, “I love being able to try on a personality that is normally so different from my own. I’m not even a great stand up comedian.”
When asked about what it’s like to place himself in the crazy life of Kramer, sophomore Jeff Williams said, “I’m literally selling tickets for feeding geese catnip. It’s very popular with the under-20 crowd.”
Freshman Sue McDunn was eager to say, “I hope people don’t think it’s sexist. Elaine is kind of a jerk, but it’s not because she’s a woman.”
Junior John Hornbuckle was the only cast member to express disappointment with his role, saying, “Newman is really annoying. I was hoping to get Jerry.
The fun and nostalgia of the show makes up for the fact that the audience does not actually get to see any of this on stage. Most of it is told via James Watanabe sitting down stage at a computer typing the script and making comments about some of the jokes.