Fringe NYC 2015
Set sail on the seven deadly sins and indulge in all of them! David Foster Wallace’s essay brought to life in the span of 1.5 hours, masterfully performed by Christopher Duva. A hybrid of theatre and storytelling that keeps us both on our toes and looking inwards at our own gluttonous inner children.
The actor runs out on to the stage, throws himself down on a duffel bag, and feigns sleep before the lights rise. We wonder why he wasn’t there all the while, as we entered. Within moments of the start, he awakes and begins the lengthy monologue of “I have’s”, which borders on spoken word, with rhythms and repeated tempos, inflections, and nearly too crisp Ts. This is the beginning, the beginning of the show, as well as the beginning of the essay upon which it is based.
This adaptation of Shipping Out, an essay by David Foster Wallace, is a witty hour and a half long rollercoaster, with fine direction from Suzanne Weber. This is an excellent example of what new forms live performance can take, and touch us in ways that recorded media never could. Once the opening speech subsides, the performer begins shifting, changing up pace and taking his time where necessary. Our fears are abated as we realize this is not going to be monotonous, far from it. The performer knows just how to use the words and bring them to life; this is no dull poetry reading.
Christopher Duva does a fantastic job, letting the natural flow of the writer’s word come to life on the stage. Creating a dramatic arc out of the emotions of a person, rather than events occurring, is a difficult task. By the midway point of the show we are wondering if anything of import is going to occur on the ship, but it doesn’t, except within the protagonist, and within ourselves. A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again is downright fun, imaginative, and the humour blossoms out of Duva as we come to sympathize with Wallace and wonder at the gluttony of cruise culture and that American part of us that craves pampering.