Off-Off-Broadway Review: “Is That Danny DeVito?” at FringeNYC 2016 at WOW Café

Off-Off-Broadway Review: “Is That Danny DeVito” at FringeNYC 2016 at WOW Café (Closed Saturday August 27, 2016)
Written by Alexander Janosek Doyle
Directed by Amanda Levie
Reviewed by Joseph Verlezza
Theatre Reviews Limited

It seems that this year in FringeNYC more than a few offerings are based on, connected to, or somehow resemble “Waiting for Godot” and almost all contain notes in the programs from the directors or authors explaining what makes their particular production different from the absurdist classic that is in constant revival. The new play “Is That Danny DeVito? (and other questions from west of the Hudson)” is one of those many offerings that share this notification tactic. The questions that come to mind is why this explanation is necessary and does the audience need this information to enjoy or understand the performance? In the case of this new work penned by Alexander Janosek Doyle, being presented as part of the N.Y. International Fringe Festival, the answer is no and the young playwright should trust his material.

Mr. Doyle’s script is more than a play about waiting, a trope used too often to shed light on a myriad of other emotional, social, and life experiences. It is more than a play about having nothing more to do than think and question, ultimately learning about one’s self and others. Dusty (an animated, inquisitive Julian Blake Gordon) and Geoff (a solid, natural, unassuming Finn Kilgore) are waiting for a bus to take them back to Jersey City, New Jersey after a short vacation on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. These two millennials have different viewpoints on life but share the same regard for their – what seems to be necessary – friendship. Intangible questions arise. Are they really waiting or is this just part of living? Is where they are going any different then where they are? Will what they do, who they discover and what they say change anything? Does any of it really matter since their actions and dialogue create an illusory correlation?

Mr. Gordon and Mr. Kilgore have great chemistry and make the most of the material they are given. They have created real characters, two millennials who seem to be lost rather than waiting for something to take them in the right direction, which they think is home. They are everyman filled with hope, fear, anxiety, dreams, and knowledge. They are sensitive, abrasive, willing, and combative. They are human. Natasha Edwards as Ghoul and Carlo Fiorletta as Ass-Biter round out the competent cast. Amanda Levie moves the piece along at a comfortable pace but there is absolutely no need for an intermission which interrupts the tension and frustration.

Mr.Doyle has delivered a refreshing twist on the classic, filling it with humor and sensitivity. Don’t wait to see, or go wait and see or just wait till you see for yourself, but don’t wait too long to catch the remaining performances at The WOW Café.