New Jersey arts and entertainment news, features, and event previews.

News | characteristics | Previews | events

By Bruce Chadwick



Originally published: 08/22/2022

sad

If someone asked me to use one word to describe it metromaniacs, The play, What I’d Like to Say , just opened at Drew University’s Shakespeare Theater in Madison.

sad

If they asked me for a two word description it would be very odd.

Metromaniacs Set in beautiful Paris in the early 18th century when the aristocrats of the French capital were wild about poetry and the men and women who wrote it. This was the hard rock music of his day. The play is about a man who is writing a poem/play and trying to cast everyone he knows as characters in the play. According to the author, the play has five plots, but you’d need a detective to find any of them (TV’s Columbo couldn’t fix a single one).

Crazy days in 18th century Paris with people from Britney to Britney Spears

Advertise with New Jersey Stage for $50-$100 per month, click here for information

Metromaniacs No plot, no real main character and not much of a set. I was adapted from a 1738 production by David Ives. The French writer was Alexis Piron.

It’s hilarious, though, a thoroughly enjoyable night in Paris and Madison, too. I couldn’t stop laughing, especially when writer David Ives throws in references to present-day people and characters that aren’t in the story (like when American singer Britney Spears discusses Britney’s French geography). There are men engaged in conflict with empty pistols. One person said the ‘Metro’ in the title refers to the New York City subway system. The men are in love with two different women, but it is not clear who is who or who is not. One scene is crazier than the other.

The play begins with two men seducing Lisette, a French girl. Or is the French girl Lucille (cover girl for Botox). Then the drama goes plain crazy. Is she really Lisette or is she really Lucille? Is the man who hides him the real one? Is the other a wooer and a wooee or just the wooer before he was a wooee?

Crazy days in 18th century Paris with people from Britney to Britney Spears

And what is a wooee anyway?

Who is Mander, the flamboyant playboy who wanders through the play and seems out of touch with the world, and the entire plot and every character, until the last scene? Why does Frankalo, a middle-aged man who writes plays, keep trying to keep everyone in the story in his play? Who is he anyway?

Who is the old man in Francalo’s game that needs him to cry like a hoot? And throughout the story he continues to shout as loud as he can.

Demis, who is the other playwright, or is he really a playwright? He is actually, well, who is he?

Crazy days in 18th century Paris with people from Britney to Britney Spears

Drama has no goal. It is plotless. It has no meaning, no meaning. However, you cannot remove your eyes and ears. You’re hooked from the start.

You’ve just got to love Madness after this show, magnificently, and I mean directed by Brian B. Crowe (oh, he really is Brian B. Crowe).

When is a play written in a play? And by whom? Is a playwright who writes a play within a play really a playwright? Is this play really a play?

There are millions of subplots in the play, all of which go nowhere. Director Crowe gets amazing performances from his ensemble cast. On stage, the show appears to have at least 12,000 actors, but it’s only seven.

Crazy days in 18th century Paris with people from Britney to Britney Spears

The talent of the actors brings all the characters to life so that you see them as people, regardless of who they are or what they are trying to be, or perceived to be, or misunderstood to be.

Advertise with New Jersey Stage for $50-$100 per month, click here for information

First, there’s Francolo, the host, the guy who’s writing what seems like an endless drama. He creates twists and turns and the crux of the story. He is well played by Brent Harris. Dashen White as Lisette and Billie Wyatt as Lucille are the two best women in the play. The inscrutable Monder is played by Austin Kirk. Is Christian Frost Demise, or is it really Demise? Ty Lane is Dorante, John Ahlin is the old hauler Baliveau. Individually, they are precious and collectively a treasure.

Crazy days in 18th century Paris with people from Britney to Britney Spears

Abbott and Costello and the cast were all this play needed Seinfeld.

I can see Kramer in 1738, right? Jerry or Perlage?

Oh, wait. wait I can hear Baliveau HOWLING in the parking lot in front of my condo building.

HHHHHHOOOOOWLLLL!

Crazy days in 18th century Paris with people from Britney to Britney Spears

Metromaniacs On stage until September 4. Click here For ticket information.

Photos by Sarah Haley


Bruce Chadwick spent 23 years as an entertainment writer/critic for the New York Daily News. Later, he served as the arts and entertainment critic for the History News Network, a national online weekly magazine. Chadwick holds a PhD in History and Cultural Studies from Rutgers University. He has written 31 books on American history and has lectured on history and culture around the world. He is a professor of history at New Jersey City University.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.