Channeling Kevin Spacey

Elan Wolf Farbiarz and Cory Terry
St Luke’s Theatre, New York
(2012)

Channeling Kevin Spacey has a really good underlying concept. However, the delivery very literally divides audiences.

On New Year’s Day, about 10% left, 50% clearly loved every minute and the remainder probably found themselves a little baffled and appreciative to varying degrees.

The tone is set in the first five words, three of which are repetitions of the same sexually-charged expletive.

These are uttered by Joshua Levine’s Charlie, an ordinary guy if ever there was one. He is a 30-year-old intern living in the city.

For the first half hour or so, we experience his mundane life, spiced up by encounters with 15 or 20 random characters, all played by Jamil Chokachi.

For most people, the key to enjoying the evening will lie in their reaction to Mr Chokachi’s broad acting style. He will either win you over or repel with the kind of gestures favoured in less subtle TV sitcoms as he portrays everyone from the sexy coffee shop girl that Charlie fancies to angry bosses and bystanders.

The two key people in Charlie’s life are his hooker girlfriend and his highly-sexed best friend.

The former has become pregnant 11 months after she last had relations with our hero but he is such a loser that this is taken as a matter of course, requiring a pay rise to fund the enlarged family. Strangely, this primarily means her stud of a lover but will eventually involve the baby.

His pal’s earthy advice leads to a life change. Up to this point, Charlie decides that he has lived his life like a Kevin Spacey loser—think American Beauty / The Usual Suspects / Glengarry Glen Ross.

Suddenly he decides that nice guys don’t get the girls or the money and effects a Superman-style transformation into a pale imitation of Al Pacino.

This makes a big impression. So big that Charlie loses his job, his income and the girl that he yearns to hook up with.

Suffice to say that this kind of piece, which runs to around 75 minutes, has a happier ending than real life would ever offer.

Levine has real charm and a lovable kookiness as Charlie. Chokachi is so far over the top that you have no choice but to love or hate him and, depending on which way one goes, Channeling Kevin Spacey is a must-see show or one to avoid at all costs.

Reviewer: Philip Fisher