FOR THE NEW CITY
Crystal Field, Executive Director
DUET FOR SOLO VOICE
David Scott Milton
by Jonathan Slaff
Krah, David Zen Mansley
Manager: Gladys Maldomado
by Stanley Allan Sherman
PLAY WAS PRESENTED JANUARY 28 TO FEBRUARY 14, 2010
the New City , 155 First Ave. (at East Tenth Street), Manhattan,
"Duet foir Solo Voice"
is a dark comedy about Leonard Pelican, a paranoid night clerk
in a seedy Times Square hotel, circa 1970, who thinks that the
Russians are coming...for him! He is pursued throughout the play
by his paranoid fantasy: a KGB agent named Vassily Ilianovich
Chort. The play, then, is the eccentric whirl of Leonard's entrapment
of Chort while the gravelly-voiced Bolshevik is zeroing in for
the kill. One actor plays both parts. It's a play of lively absurdity,
cruel comedy and pathos, with hilarious chase scenes and madcap
The piece was originally developed
by The American Place Theatre. The archives of the Theatre reveal
that the part was originally offered to Marty Feldman and Alan
Arkin. Directed by Martin Fried, with Herb Edelman as Pelican,
it was presented by The American Place Theatre in 1970. Clive
Barnes, writing in the New York Times, described it as a comic
commentary on Gogol's "Diary of a Madman," built on
a daring concept, funny and touching. Barnes credited actor Herb
Edelman and director Martin Fried with bringing off a tour de
force. Fried subsequently directed Ben Gazzara in the part on
Broadway in 1975 in a double-bill with Eugene O'Neill's "Hughie."
Barnes deemed Ben Gazzara's Broadway double-bill "a smashing
evening of theater."
The piece was originally written
in 1970 as a solo turn for one actor. For
the Theater for the New City production, Director Stanley Allan
Sherman enlarged the play's concept slightly by adding live actors
to replace sound effects and dummies in making the background
life of the hotel. Using the playscript as a commedia dell'
arte scenario, a two-person ensemble of David Zen Mansley
and Rachel Krah enacted the hotel patrons with live voices back
stage and added comedic surprises.