In Al’s Business Cards, underwritten and underdeveloped by Josh Koenigsberg, which is making its debut at The Lion Theatre at Theatre Row under the auspices of AT PLAY in association with OLD VIC NEW VOICES, a co-production of Kevin Spacey’s The Old Vic Theatre in London and The 24 Hour Company – we have all the ingredients of a bad television sit-com. Even the title suggests an episode of Seinfeld rather than a play which it is purported to be. The best thing to be said about Al’s Business Cards is that it’s over before you know it. Clocking in at approximately 70 minutes.
We have Al Gurvis (an excellent Azhar Khan) and here’s hoping that he acquires his Actors’ Equity Card sooner than his five year wait for his Green Card in said play. He gives an all around charming performance as an “assistant gaffer” (for those of you not well acquainted with the profession a gaffer is a term for an electrical technician in the motion picture industry.) Here Al is working on a TV show of which this could be a pilot starring John Stamos. Al’s not so bright buddy, Barry (an amusing Bobby Moreno) is wondering why Al has gotten himself “business cards”.
As it turns out Al has received the wrong cards – those belonging to the great looking real estate agent with the name of Eileen Lee (a believable Lauren Hines and under the circumstances that’s a huge compliment) who is in the middle of divorcing her alcoholic husband Daniel (Malcolm Madera). She herself is in recovery – which allows her to be tempted by a glass of wine when she meets up with Al to swap business cards and to try to have him buy a condo near her own. Daniel, the drunken suspicious husband has seen Al’s card and thinks that his wife is having an affair with Al. Soooo, he hires Private Investigator Jose Alvarez (Gabriel Gutierrez) to get the goods on her so that he can screw Goldberg the lawyer.
The point is made that people judge others solely on name and looks. Barry thinks Al is Hispanic. But he’s one half Indian and the other maybe Irish. Al thinks Eileen Lee will be Asian; she hoped he’d be white. It really is supposed to be a chain reaction story involving all of the above. Oh yes, Al is also a non-resident and so he can’t buy the condo.
Here’s the best part. Al meets up with Eileen and gives her cards back. She asks him what an “assistant gasser” is as that’s his job description on his cards which she has left at the ABC print shop in New Jersey which is closed for the weekend. Now anyone who has had cards printed up knows that they have to approve a “proof” of the card before it gets printed. Maybe not in Jersey. Unless he did approve “gaffer” and then it went to press with a typo error “gasser”? Who knows? For me, the entire premise of the mix-up of “gaffer” and “gasser” does not work. It’s ridiculous – as are many of the episodes of sit-coms.
Eventually very little is resolved. I suppose we’ll have to wait for the next episode of Al’s Business Cards. Through August 22, 2009 www.atplayproductions.com
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