International comedy star, David Strassman's brand new show, iTedE is an uproarious take on our technology-laden lives.
The sharp-tongued Chuck Wood and loveable Ted E. Bare have been thrust into the world of social media, constantly on their iPads and iPhones, not interacting with the real world. With everyone connected to social media and the internet 24/7, will Strassman get them back under control?
Strassman's iTedE introduces an amazing new technology that brings the world's most advanced Puppetronics to the stage. In a world-first feat, Strassman simultaneously operates 5 characters in a hilarious never-before-done, 6-way conversation, using a handheld wireless remote control that sets new standards in ventriloquism.
WOw, OK... I have never seen Strassman live before, so I wasn't too sure what to expect. I mean, we all know that back when he started, there were filters in place to "protect" the television-watching audience from some of the harsher antics of devilish Chuck Wood... but live on stage, in this day and age... wow!
So, the first half of the show is scripted, but also carries a lot of improve... much to the delight of the audience members willing to indulge in some schadenfreude, and at the expense of one senior member of the audience seated in the front row, and another seated a few chairs down from me in the third row. However, it rolled along at a good pace with a lot of "local" humour thrown in too. (No-one wanted to own up to living in Morrinsville, I tell you! Thanks Chuck, you little rascal you.) That took us through an hour, with a momentary teaser as to what technological gimmickry awaited us just before the break for intermission.
The show restarted quite soon - a mere 10 minutes later - and David threw us straight into the full 6-way conversation portion... and what a performance! The only distracting thing was Ted's constant, slow, head-rolling... it was quite disturbing, as it was quite subtle and you really only paid it attention when David walked to the far side of the stage, putting Ted in the corner of your eye... right where it would get noticed by your subconscious. Still, barring that tiny irritation, the show rolled through the gradual introduction of all the characters, and David's explanation of how each represented a facet of his own personality.
David quite calmly and adroitly walked us right through "the fourth wall" - admitting to the various puppets - Chuck and Ted in particular - that this was a show, they were just physical focii for aspects of his own psyche, and that this was a stage performance, not reality... and also explaining how he feared that technology was reducing our ability to use our imaginations and suspend our disbelief in the face of "modern miracles" and CGI making the fake look ever more real every day.
Afterwards, I can really only wrap my head around the show-entire if I see it as a scripted existential crisis - it was quite solidly focussed - particularly in the second half - on David's own fears for the future of his artform, and how he worries that he won't be able to maintain a coping pace with the ever-accelerating virtual world. Repeated references to "paying Dave's wages" by various characters highlighted a certain concern that live stage shows are no longer "good lifestyle" careers, and are become less and less appealing to the masses, who can see it all "on demand" or via YouTube.
Overall, this was still a very funny show in places, a little disturbing (in a thought-provoking way) in others, and certainly a hell of a night out experience. You may walk out wondering why you bothered, but give it some thought and look at the questions it raised, and you may find it was a lot 'deeper' than you first thought. I know I did... and I'm glad of it.
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