Written and Directed by Timothy Scott Harris
The New York International Fringe Festival
A Production of The Present Company
220 E. 4th Street between Avenues A and B
Friday, August 13 - 27, 2010
Stage Manager MICHAEL PALMER
Lights DUANE PAGANO
Crew DUNCAN PFLASTER
Production Coordinator CARRIE EDEL ISAACMAN
Press SCOTTI RHODES
Langley – Jeff Paul
Mirna –Cam Kornman
Matt – Matt Walker
Debra – Dee Dee Friedman
Cruthers – Bill Tatum
In PROTECTED, we meet Langley Peterson, just seven weeks into his new life in Albuquerque, New Mexico as a participant in the Witness Protection Program, and unable, or unwilling to unpack his boxes and give the new life a try. Trying to blend in but make as little contact as possible, the paranoid Langley is unwittingly followed home and visited by a co-worker, and is the recipient of nosy neighbour hospitality and perhaps matchmaking. His one tie to the old life is in Cruthers, who has trained Langley to be in the Protection Program, and pops in for a last visit to cut him loose and keep him in line.
The gist of the reason that Langley is on the lam has something to do with being an accountant who steals from the mob to pay for his wife’s medical treatments after the insurance company cuts her coverage. Here I felt a tinge of influence from television’s "Breaking Bad" in terms of the motivation for the actions of the central character, and an attempt to make the character’s actions sympathetic. The similarities end there. PROTECTED is ultimately lighter, less immediately violent fare, with the danger seemingly more in the minds of characters and what they fear in the shadows, or in the shadows of their past, or of our collective past, with references to events like September 11.
Though PROTECTED centers around Langley’s transition and attempted acclimation to a new life, as the mundane daily routine unfolds, the play reveals more layers of all the characters, particularly Debra, one of the neighbours. She has OCD. Umbrella always open to block the sun, a fear of touching doorknobs or anything not clean, unable to sleep if a plate has not been washed, Langley is none the less drawn to her, perhaps because in his small new universe there is no one else around except Mirna (Debra’s mother), and Matt (co-worker by day, female impersonator on the stage at night). Perhaps, too, Langley recognizes his own loneliness and need to feel protected in Debra.
An unlikely scenario, PROTECTED has respectable production values given the Fringe Festival’s fast-paced and rotating schedule. A few set pieces provide the framework of Langley’s house. Of particular importance are the door and the doorframe where he hangs a bell and unsuccessfully attempts to add locks and other security features. In the first act, he is securely behind this barrier to his past to current lives. By act 2, he has ventured outside, both physically and in his actions. Not so subtle or intuitive, but not every show needs to be.
- Kessa De Santis -Home Archives