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March 20, 2007

‘Body Loop’ should be penalized for impersonating a drama

“The As If Body Loop”: Photo by Harlan Taylor Keith Randolph Smith and Marc Grapey in “The As If Body Loop.”“L’eggo my Eggo,” sputters Sarah, the freezing social worker, incomprehensibly.Her football-loving brother, Aaron, has been lured home by their mother, the “Attic Lady,” to practice new-age healing. It seems Sarah’s a member of the elite 33 “Lamed Vuvniks” who are chosen by God to bear the world’s suffering. In the aftermath of 9/11, the world has become too much for Sarah, and her body temperature keeps dropping. Aaron, aggressively played by Marc Grapey, uses the sort of motivational speeches a football coach might employ to try and help Martin, one of Sarah’s clients, who lost his wife that fateful day. She was a pastry chef in Windows on the World. He carries the grocery list she gave him, which includes the Eggo Waffles he loved. He tried to buy Eggos when he was finally able to get out of the house, but the grocery was sold out. So he went ballistic and was charged with a crime.Improbably, a job interviewer later asks Martin if he’s ever been arrested. He loses his temper and shoves everything off the table. He should have shouted, “Illegal use of the tongue!,” for it is against the law for employers to inquire about arrest records. Clearly, the playwright hadn’t done his homework.This is but one of many illogical plot twists and half-baked ideas passing for drama in “The As If Body Loop,” Actors Theatre’s fifth offering in the Humana Festival. Even though the lame jokes brought forth some tittering, the actors talked right through without waiting for the snickers to subside.Some action takes place in an attic (on a riser). If you’re unlucky enough to be seated in the back row, you’ll have to crane your neck to see what’s going on with the batty Attic Lady (Jana Robbins) and her rash-covered son, Glenn (Josh Lefkowitz), Aaron’s and Sarah’s brother.There seems to be a multitude of plays these days addressing 9/11 and its aftermath, too many that adopt a preachy tone. If you don’t understand that we all suffer because of the terrible loss of life, and that we’ll continue to suffer in unknown ways for years to come, you must be living in a cave. We don’t need to hear this “lesson” again.In this play, even the actors seem bored by it. Martin’s expository speech about the Eggo incident is delivered so matter-of-factly by Keith Randolph Smith, an otherwise dynamic actor, that some audience members drifted off to sleep in the opening performance. Thud!The actors struggle with a deadly script that ends on a completely ridiculous note. Also, a love of theater seems missing here, unlike Le Petomane Theatre Ensemble’s exuberant performance of “Don Juan” on the same weekend and just 12 blocks away.