Review by Tulis McCall
The last time I saw Nick Kroll and John Mulaney (George St. Geegland and Gil “Charmed I’m Sure” Faison respectively) was last December at the Cherry Lane Theatre. At that time the title of the show was Oh Hello Live. Now it is just Oh, Hello On Broadway. This could imply that they are no longer a-l-i-v-e. And there is a bit of truth in that. These two septuagenarian gents look and act as though they were mummified some time ago, but declined to take it seriously.
They are out and about and eager to share their talents, accomplishments, and more specifically their new play – the story of two septuagenarians living on the Upper West Side.
GEORGE – The magic of Broadway. (pronounced Brid-WAY) That’s what this play is. It’s a love letter to theater-
GIL – Or more of a stalker’s note scrawled in lipstick on a mirror.
And we’re off. At the bottom of this play it appears to be all pure stupid. Yeah, like the Marx bothers were stupid. Their accomplishments include a 1997 restraining order from Alan Alda, and reintroducing the polio virus. They are the orange pekoe teabag stain gin gate counter top of life as we know it. Nothing is to be taken seriously except the dance they perform together. They have performed in venues all over town, including hospitals and kill shelters. Their repertoire is vast, a version Waiting for Godot in which Godot shows up – time is short so why wait? Their first show was inspired by and Stolen from “Sim” Shepherd: True Upper West.
After a litany of their past endeavors, the curtain opens to reveal…wait for it… a set! Can it be?? Yes indeed and all part of the magic of the theatre. The pieces have been stolen from junk scene shops: The Cosby Show stoop they got for zero dollar. Ann Frank’s trap door. A “No Exit” sign in honor of Sartre and because it is a violation of the fire code.
We the audience are the final set piece and we are encouraged to use our cell phones, spread out like a terminally special person does on a plane, and to open our containers of home made food. We are let in on all the secrets of theatre: phone calls, bloody handkerchiefs and yelling. FINALLY the play begins.
And it pretty much goes nowhere. George Reddington (Mulaney) is waiting for a letter from his publisher regarding his recently submitted novel. Gil Stone (Kroll) is now a 40 year old person who is an actor. He is looking for meaningful work instead of auditioning for commercials. There is the barest thread of a story line here and these two give it a nod every once in awhile. The afore mentioned letter does arrive – it is a rejection. Along with it comes a letter from the landlord, stating that the boys’ rent controlled 5 bedroom apartment is no longer rent controlled. Their rent is changing from $75 to $2500 (at Cherry Lane this was $4,000 and THAT seemed more reasonable).
Mostly they wander off the reservation and tell stories or offer observations on everything from Lenny Kravitz‘s private parts to a childhood friendship with Robert Durst to a flash back to their interview show on WOLO – and it is time for the guest of the evening. The night I saw it Seth Meyers was soon the menu, and these two pretty much ate him alive. All Meyers could do was sit there and laugh until his given punch line. There is a different guest – and some times it is an audience member – every night.
Next up is a guided tour of New York over 4 decades, starting in the 1970’s when sex was like Napster. There follows interpretive dance, emotional doings in Riverside Park, success (when you find out that jewelry stores DO have a bathroom you can use), a small break where the two lie side by side on the floor and riff, separation and reuniting.
About half way through this show you realize you are never going to catch up so you let go of the reins and hang on for the ride. When that pony heads for the feedbag in the barn, and you slip off, you realize that you have spent the better part of the past 70 minutes laughing. Your face is a little sore from using muscles that have not been worked out in a long time. And your breathing has changed.
Normally I don’t take notes during a show, but there were so many moments I wanted to check out later on that I was scratching away. I never look at the pad. Just slam the pen up to my left thumb and guide my right hand down the page, spacing out the lines. This is what my thumb looked like at the end of this show.
It was worth every drop of blue ink that I aquired.
Oh, Hello on Broadway – written by Nick Kroll and John Mulaney. Directed by Alex Timbers.
A presentation by Patrick Catullo, Marcia Goldberg, Barbara Whitman, Marc Platt, Pierce Cravens, James G. Kernochan, Jonathan Reinis, Benjamin Simpson & Joseph Longthorne / Shira Friedman, Triptyk Studios, Bellanca Smigel Rutter, Nathan Vernon, Mike Lavoie, and Comedy Central of a Nick Kroll and John Mulaney production of a comedy in one act by Kroll & Mulaney.
Lyceum Theater; 914 seats; $149 top. Opened Oct. 10, 2016. Reviewed Oct. 6. Running time: ONE HOUR, 35 MIN.