Fringe Festival 2008
Co-writers and stars Jeff Long and
Andi Teran pull out all the stops in "For Reasons Unknown."
Andi Teran and Jeff Long.
Unknown,” a comedy in the 12th annual Fringe Festival in New York, lives
up to its title by not making it too clear what it’s about or where it’s
going through most of its first half.
However, the play redeems itself in its second half by unexpectedly
pulling out of that seemingly uncertain hodge podge of shtick and an
overly neurotic lead character to tie together connections between all
its characters and deliver a surprise ending -- maybe not as profound an
ending as its creators hoped, but still a resonant one.
The action begins when Bradley, played by Jeff Long -- who co-wrote the
play with co-star Andi Teran, returns home to find a piece of poop on
the middle of his couch, with no obvious explanation for how it got
there (as all the windows and doors to his apartment were locked). This
occurs one Saturday morning in New York after he returned to his
apartment, having ditched an exercise class with his best friend Julie,
played by Teran as a frantic, kinetic fountain of non-sequiturs and
strange statements, somewhat like Cheri Oteri’s cheerleader character on
SNL. Teran’s antics are absurdly funny, though.
Bradley has a flair for the dramatic as he wails and whines about how
violated he feels, summoning the police to investigate and getting upset
when they take the incident less than seriously at times (but the play
does have the two cops, played by William Franke and Jessica Kaman,
shift abruptly to taking the occurrence overly seriously later on,
donning hazmat suits). But the true finds among the supporting cast are
Travis York, as the suspicious super of the building, and Matt Mullin as
Bradley’s neighbor Craig, to whom there is also more than meets the eye
in the first act.
York gets a tour de force monologue, in part about his fixation with
killing the pigeons that plague the building, that evokes one of those
true New York characters -- using a voice that is a blend of the
cadences of Jackie Gleason and Christopher Walken. It’s a very enjoyable
segment of the play.
What’s strange about “For Reasons Unknown,” in the end, is that it takes
dramatic development of its characters and their relationships to make
its humor make sense. The plot and circumstances within it, especially
with the ending, do seem contrived for contrivances’ sake, but the play
has enough funny dialogue, performances and interactions in it to
“For Reasons Unknown” has two more performances in the festival,
August 21 at 2 p.m. and August 24 at 2:15 p.m.