Un Plugged In opens in a small New York City apartment one week prior to December 21, 2012, or, the “Enlightenment,” as we come to know it. We meet Chris (Joe Curnutte) and his girlfriend, Leah (Athena Masci), right before Leah is set to visit family in California. While Michael P. Kramer’s setting delivers a nice opening, the chemistry between the nonchalant, macho Chris, and lackluster Leah, is missing. The storyline is set early-on to focus on the battle between real life and fantasy—namely, Chris’ apprehension about taking a real job and his affection for his PlayStation.
With the arrival of Zero (Devin Norik) on stage, both Joe Curnutte (Chris) and Athena Masci (Leah) begin to settle into their characters with ease and amusement, and we begin to get a sense of the importance of each character and the larger roles they play in each other’s lives. While Zero’s eccentricities and fear of the “Enlightenment” make him the most incredible character of the three, Zero manages to bring the character to life with an innocent and genuine, unadulterated flair.
After learning that Zero has cheated on his ex-girlfriend, for whom he still has feelings for, we also gain great insight into Chris’ and Leah’s feelings, leading to a twist later on. The backdrop of Chris’ obsession with PlayStation and Zero’s preoccupation with the “Enlightenment” both juxtapose the same theme: love for another person. Fantasies and fiction are intertwined into the plotline to bring about a more intense characterization, but they fail to fit together as a whole. In the same sense, Zero’s and Leah’s attempt to find enlightenment is a little startling and out of the blue.
While writer Brian Pracht’s humor is greatly appreciated and his theme rings true in the end, the technology obsession seems almost like an afterthought—something thrown in to contrast the enlightenment that all of the characters face at some point in the storyline, despite the fact that the characters have already accomplished that themselves. Director Michelle Bossy works well with each of the cast member’s distinctions, and even though some reactions are overlooked, each gesture and mannerism seems natural and true to character.
Un Plugged In
By Brian Pracht
Directed by Michelle Bossy
With Joe Curnutte, Athena Masci, and Devin Norik
The Lion Theater
410 West 42nd Street
Through June 9, 2012