By David Foster Wallace, Adapted and Performed by Christopher Duva; Directed by Suzanne Weber
Part of the 2015 New York International Fringe Festival
Off Off Broadway, Solo Show
Runs through 8.28.15
VENUE #14: The White Box at 440 Studios, 440 Lafayette Street, 3rd Floor
by Keith Paul Medelis on 8.17.15
Christopher Duva in A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again. Photo by Suzanne Weber.
BOTTOM LINE: Simply performed and profoundly felt solo show featuring the words of David Foster Wallace.
I’ll confess that my literary sensibilities haven’t previously extended to David Foster Wallace, from whom this play's text is derived. I decided a dutiful trip to the bookstore was in order on the afternoon of visiting Christopher Duva’s adaptation of Wallace’s 1995 essay A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again. I’m now happy to report that I’m several bookmarks deep in this and other Wallace essays.
What makes them so wonderful for stage performance is the very reason they remain page turners—there’s descriptive language, consistent truth, and searing irony in nearly every sentence. We get lost in the power of the words, laughing while confronted with some terribly honest materials of our consuming nature as human beings, particularly American ones.
If you’re unfamiliar, this is Wallace’s story of a seven-night cruise and all the observations one is sure to have. There’s no fun in spoiling them here (I sort of wished I had saved reading the original for after my own viewing) but it’s every thought you’ve probably secretly had and more. Where Supposedly Fun hits home toward the end is in fact Wallace’s earlier half of the essay. With all the luxury afforded to him, can our pleasure become insatiable? In an essay intended as a kind of exposé, Wallace and Duva can’t help but find themselves enraptured with the elitist notions of the desire for bigger and better things.
“Relaxation and renewal” taunts the advertising materials for this cruise. In fact, you may experience an unsettling opposite with Duva’s production directed slickly by Suzanne Weber. Using subtle sound and visual cues (designed by Chris Muller) to move us through the story, Duva enraptures us with simple and profound storytelling that is really the highlight of FringeNYC’s low budget, high turnover appeal. Why opt for anything more when this material is so good?
(A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again plays at VENUE #14: The White Box at 440 Studios, 440 Lafayette Street, 3rd Floor, through August 28, 2015. Performances are Sun 8/16 at 8:45; Thu 8/20 at 7; Sat 8/22 at 12:30; Wed 8/26 at 4:45; and Fri 8/28 at 3:15. There is no late seating at FringeNYC. Tickets are $18 and are available at fringenyc.org. For more information visit www.supposedlyfunshow.com.)