Thursday, July 11, 2013

Review: (Toronto) Alex Nussbaum's Handbook to the Future

When Stand-up Meets Theatre
by Lisa McKeown

Nussbaum’s one-man show is another example of stand-up meets theatre. Nussbaum is worried, very worried. But he is a brave new worrier, prepared to face the realities of technological breakdowns, and Toronto fringe audiences. The world didn’t end in Y2K but are we really as safe as we think? Or, like the library of Alexandria – an enormous library in the middle of the desert – are we setting ourselves up for disaster. Just one ill-placed match, just one technological crash, and will we wind up … back in the past? 

The show has a good structure, looking at the past, present, and future anxieties surrounding technology and how it’s shaping our lives and our ability to connect with each other on a more human level. He looks at it from both pessimistic and optimistic standpoints, using different characters to portray the different views. Although that does provide a nice contrast it’s unclear who these characters are really or why they are talking to the audience. Nussbaum is funny when he’s on, but a lot of the time he was reaching for his lines, which always leaves me feeling more anxious for the actor than able to enjoy the show. 

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