WRITES IN ABOUT "DUET FOR SOLO VOICE"
Email to Jonathan Slaff 2/5/10 from Mindy Aloff, a dance/theater writer and scholar. Reproduced in entirety, with permission:
"That's got to be the fleabag hotel on the south side of West 43rd, across from the old Times Building! (The place is still a fleabag: when the bedbug thing started a couple of years ago in many of the Manhattan hotels, this one had the worst infestation and was on the news nightly.) Also, in 1974, when I performed at LaMaMa with a small company from Buffalo, The Company of Man, in a dance-theater. I guess you'd call it a realization of "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner," we landed in the old Hotel Albert, in the Village, way, way before it became a classy co-op. The desk at the Hotel Albert, as well as the ambient sounds, was a dead ringer for the desk in your set! (The Hotel Albert also featured a few shuffling and terrorized oldsters, left over from when it was a kind of middle-class pensione; a whole lot of druggies; and--the pieces de resistance--holes the size of silver dollars that had been drilled above the doorknobs of the doors from the hall leading to each room. We lasted there one hour before the company re-located us to the Hotel Tudor, on East 42nd.)
"So I recognized every detail of this play. In 1969 or 1970, it would have been a comi-tragedy. In 2010--and how astute on your and Stanley Sherman's part--it's a cartoon farce. I loved it! The number of people in New York who are susceptible to the full impact of the names Beria and Lubyanka can probably be counted on three fingers, but you were so deeply into the story, Jonathan, that the references didn't matter as much as the trenchcoat and the I.B. Singer nose and glasses. The duet that served as the voice of the elevator was absolutely endearing; I especially relished the moment when Pelican, to make it stop, pulled off the indicator hand. That was genius. And there was so much for you to do: physical comedy (the silent monologue at the typewriter as the audience filed in was delightful), every kind of shtick imaginable, every emotion, accents. I'm guessing that Ben Gazzara would have been a little more echt in the Italian, but you did well. And when you took your bows, I don't think I've ever in my life seen a happier performer. And the snow held off. Bravo."