Technopoly is a streaming on demand double bill of accomplished one-act plays video recorded in a theater without an audience. It’s presented by the Brooklyn-based Ryan Repertory Company, which was funded by the estate of actress Irene Ryan (1902-1973), best known as Granny on television’s The Beverly Hillbillies. This group is dedicated to producing new works by emerging playwrights and here they majestically fulfill that mission. Author John Murphy exhibits a command of dramatic writing with his muscular propulsive dialogue and fertile scenarios.
With narrative flashes reminiscent of Rod Serling’s striking storytelling, Logic & Hope is a resonant examination of a heterosexual marriage during the era of early COVID-19. A cooped up middle class New York City couple navigate their relationship during job loss and pregnancy. Masking, sheltering in place and existential unease are represented by Mr. Murphy through sharp details. Murphy then gives us psychological turns and plot twists out of Lillian Hellman. Actors Jake Robertson and Marissa Caraballo offer vivid portrayals as the troubled marrieds, with John Sannuto giving a wry telephone voice-over performance as the wife’s grandiose financier father.
The ambitious West of New York is in David Mamet territory. Two marijuana-smoking male 18-year-old best friends take a bus ride in 1975, on their way to resort jobs before heading off to college. The action then shifts to 40 years later where their futures are revealed. The personable Leo Merrick and Jonah Velasquez score as the duo who wonderfully range from youth to later middle age with their appealing characterizations. The likeably gruff Chris Burgess makes the most of his recurring brief role as an officious bus driver.
Mr. Burgess also directed these plays. Besides attaining engaging performances from the cast, Burgess’ simple staging is expertly rendered for the screen through crisp editing and fine lighting.
Technopoly is a worthy program showcasing the talents of its promising dramatist, John Murphy.
Technopoly (streaming through January 4, 2022)
Ryan Repertory Company
Running time: one hour without an intermission