By Tulis McCall
Okie dokie then. If you have a few synapses you’re not using for anything, I suggest you swan over to 59E59 Theaters and put them to good use. Aaron Loeb‘s play Ideation will give them a fabulous workout, as will the cast who dishes up this most excellent presentation.
Three guys return to the home office from a successful meeting in Crete. Sandeep (Jason Kapoor), Brock (Mark Anderson Phillips) and Ted (Michael Ray Wisely) literally strut into the conference room where their boss, Hannah (Carrie Paff) has been waiting. Exactly what they did and how they did it remains elusive, but something got transported somewhere and they figured out how to streamline the operation, save money on one end and increase sales on the other while passing that hidden additional cost on to some somebody we don’t care about. Capiche?
For the nonce they are preening in their shared glory and Brock takes only the teeniest moment to dispose of the most recent intern Scooter (Ben Euphrat) who has proven himself lacking in every way imaginable within the first 5 minutes of meeting. The fact that he is the very special son of a very important board member is of no interest to Brock. Nor to Hannah it seems.
Anyhoo – with Scoots gone it means everyone will be taking their own notes and Hannah will be sitting in. There is some resistance at first but soon the project at hand becomes the focus. And what a project it is. Without spelling it out for us this quartet unpacks a tale of extreme importance. In one hour they will have a conference call with their boss, and on that call they must present a project plan. They have been charged with creating a system for disposing of a hypothetical group of people who have been hypothetically infected with a hypothetical virus. These people must – for the greater good of the population – be hypothetically extricated and eliminated. Or as Ted writes on the whiteboard:
“Collection-> Containment -> Liquidation ->Disposal”
This story, however, does not end there. As a matter of fact it never really ends. Because these are four very smart people, and because ideation is what they do, their engines are primed before the start gun goes off. According to Wikipedia: Ideation is the creative process of generating, developing, and communicating new ideas, where an idea is understood as a basic element of thought that can be either visual, concrete, or abstract. Ideation comprises all stages of a thought cycle, from innovation, to development, to actualization. And if this definition makes your head spin, that is exactly the idea.
These people speak in a language that is both fluid and foreign. They skip from one lily pad of an idea to the next with the dexterity of a dragon fly. Ideas slam onto the white board and are replaced by others in nano seconds. Soon, however, the ideas, the possibilities, the facts and the suspicions begin to collide and the snake ends up eating its own tail. Who is doing what to whom? Who is the danger? Who is the decider? The more they dig down into the scenario, the more specificity they require – like divers needing more oxygen. The more specificity they turn up, the more questions seize them by their collective throat.
As the deadline for the video conference call slithers closer the pressure rubs these people raw. And the lines between them, the hypothetical folks and, yes, us begin to dissolve. The precarious perch we all occupy is revealed to be more unsettling than we would like.
It is a masterful script and a very fine production indeed. THIS is what The Crucible was intended to do. The sacrifice of the few to protect the many is on trial here, and the jury is out.
IDEATION by Aaron Loeb; Directed by Josh Costello
Cast Featuring Ben Euphrat, Jason Kapoor, Carrie Paff, Mark Anderson Phillips and Michael Ray Wisely
59E59 Theaters (Elysabeth Kleinhans, Artistic Director; Peter Tear, Executive Producer; Brian Beirne, Managing Director) is thrilled to wrap up the 2015/2016 5A Season with the NYC premiere of IDEATION , written by Aaron Loeb and directed by Josh Costello, Produced by San Francisco Playhouse. IDEATION runs through Sunday, April 17. The performance schedule is Tuesday – Thursday at 7 PM; Friday at 8 PM ; Saturday at 2 PM & 8 PM; and Sunday at 3 PM Performances are at 59E59 Theaters, (59 East 59th Street, between Park and Madison Avenues) Single tickets are $70 ($49 for 59E59 Members). To purchase tickets, call Ticket Central at (212) 2794200 or visit www.59e59.org