It’s 2007, and three friends sharing a New York apartment have what they think is a billion-dollar idea: a social network called “joinme2u.com.”
“Sounds like one of the things I’m medicated for,” an over-privileged high-school student named Milo (Chris Perfetti) complains in “The Tutors,” Erica Lipez’s imaginative play at Second Stage Theatre. “Joinme2u.com is kind of a bad name.”
The site attracts so few users that “Facebook” is a banned word in the apartment.
Two of the budding moguls, Joe (Matt Dellapina) and Toby (Keith Nobbs), tutor kids like the manipulative Milo.
The third roommate, Heidi (Aubrey Dollar), edits university admissions essays for clients online. She’s so lonely she’s turned a Hong Kong-based client she hasn’t met, Kwan (Louis Ozawa Changchien), into an imaginary friend and sex partner.
When the real Kwan comes to town to enroll in Columbia Business School, he stops by the apartment. Heidi thinks he’s her imaginary buddy, whom she feels she’s outgrown, and demands that he leave.
Toby and Joe have an affair, although Joe is strictly heterosexual.
Boundaries blur -- between student and teacher, gay and straight, real and imaginary. Director Thomas Kail (“In the Heights”) oversees a wonderful cast and slick production of a play that doesn’t quite cohere.
Through June 16 at the McGinn/Cazale Theatre, Broadway at 76th St. Information: +1-212-246-4422, or http://www.2st.com. Rating: **1/2
Is reality TV exploitative when it represents the only way for a drug addict to get help? Is TV good when it’s compelling, or when doing something beneficial?
Rod McLachlan raises the questions in “Good Television,” his empathetic, low-key drama about Los Angeles-based TV producers and a troubled, impoverished South Carolina family they are filming.
John Magaro, the charismatic lead in David Chase’s 2012 movie “Not Fade Away,” plays Clemson, a 21-year-old methamphetamine addict. Producer Connie (Kelly McAndrew) believes he’s a poor choice for her reality program, “Rehabilitation,” because he’s likely to relapse after a family intervention and $100,000 of rehab the production offers.
Connie’s boss (Talia Balsam) insists Clemson be featured, as the show is scrambling to fill the network’s order of 22 new episodes. The plodding first act is devoted to pre-production, as family members are interviewed ahead of the shoot.
The fireworks come when producers try to capture on video the family’s dirty laundry, which proves to be more dramatic and disturbing than an intervention.
The shoot unnerves Connie, a recovering alcoholic and the play’s conscience. She asks herself whether she can find more satisfying work than creating television, good or otherwise.
(Philip Boroff is a reporter for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are his own.)
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