Theater

A New Television Arrives, Finally

by

Kevin Mandel’s oddly titled A New Television Arrives, Finally has an even odder premise: A big guy in a red suit shows up in a young couple’s apartment calling himself a television and launches into long obscure harangues unlike anything on the airwaves. The lovers eat it up, but the audience is completely lost. No doubt my own TV-induced attention span is at fault, but the pages and pages of proselytizing never seem to settle on any discernible point, satiric or otherwise, leaving us with some nightmare couples-therapy session as run by Tony Robbins. There’s a potentially appealing absurdist streak in the conception, but Kevin Kittle’s direction can’t keep the tone consistent; some actors play real, others stylized, and the set settles for mundane naturalism. While the predicament facing Mandel’s “Man” and “Woman”—looking to a mysterious intruder to put meaning in their lives—resembles that of The Chairs, at least Ionesco had the decency to make his “orator” mute. If you’re going to dramatize the futility of cure-all answers, better silence than 85 minutes of incoherent verbal abuse.