A SUPPOSEDLY FUNNY THING I'LL NEVER DO AGAIN
January 15, 2015
David Foster Wallace (DFW) was one of the most prolific and engaging American authors of the last 20th century. His suicide was a stunning blow to his fans and to the literary world. He is best known for his essays, the most famous of those being “A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again,” which is where Daniel Fish gets the title for his latest work, currently running as part of the Under The Radar Festival at The Public.
I saw this piece when it premiered at The Chocolate Factory in Long Island City in the spring of 2012. I bought tickets for me and my wife, who is a huge DFW fan. She felt like it was the closest thing to hearing Foster’s voice since he died that she’d experienced. I was unimpressed, at best. When I saw it was being performed again, I was curious to see if it had improved any. It has not.
If you decide to go, here’s what you will experience: four very brave and resilient actors (John Amir, Therese Plaehn, Mary Rasmussen, and Jenny Seastone) tethered to Fish through headphones with long cords. They repeat the words of DFW out loud (specifically parts of his works “A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again”, “Consider The Lobster” and “Brief Interviews With Hideous Men”) at varying degrees of speed (based off the whim of Fish) and doing various unspecified actions from lying on the floor to jumping jacks. Oh, and there are tennis balls. Lots of them.
The monologues/excerpts recited change every performance. One of the monologues involve his experiences on a cruise ship (“A Supposedly Fun Thing…”), another was his review of former tennis pro Tracy Austin’s sports autobiography, and a narrative of a 13 year old’s trip to the pool and the high-diving board on his birthday. There was also a brief clip from Amy Sedaris about her cross-country driving trip with DFW.
The cost of a ticket for the show is $25. The cost of the book, new, on Amazon is $8.75. Save yourself the $16.25, order a copy, and read it at home. You’ll thank me.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Kelly Johnston