Amy Stiller in Farce The Increased Difficulty of Concentration
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The last date listed for The Increased Difficulty of Concentration was Friday March 27, 2009 / 8:00pm.
Reviews & Ratings
Featured review from PKRed Velvet
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This play was really uneven. The lead male actor was good and quite natural in the role, but many of the others seemed to be shouting their lines rather than emoting them. At first it was hard to figure out where you were in the story, as it kept jumping around in time, but after a while you figure it out. It was a bit unusual in terms of the story and had a strange dated fall to it, but in the end not the worst time I have had at the theatre.
The stangest thing about the whole experience was that while this play was supposed to be something of a farce, the audience (and I) did not find it particularly funny. However, the theatre employees who came in to watch the show sat in the middle of the house and laughed hysterically at every intended joke. I realize they probably were trying to set the mood for the rest of us and make us think it was funnier than it was, but in the end this was just somewhat annoying.
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Rarely have I seen a play and felt grossly ignorant. I would dearly love to have someone tell me what this play was about ... why it is 'great'. I've read many Czech, Hungarian, Polish tales written under communist rule and generally understood...continued
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I thought the acting, especially the lead, was quite good. the script was evidently intended to be absurd; which it was. As soon as I figured out that we were not supposed to make sense of the thing except on the most elimentary level; I sat back...continued
Quotes & Highlights
“Director Alex Lippard has assembled an able cast, and the results are often funny…playwright Vaclav Havel is unique…A conventional sex comedy grafted onto a philosophical farce”-LA WEEKLY
“This seldom seen absurdist comedy by Vaclav Havel…includes some funny, dizzying images of modern theories gone mad”.-Don Shirley, LA CITY BEAT
Featuring Amy Stiller (Day Trippers, Cable Guy, Zoolander) as Dr Betty Balthazar, the daughter of Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara, best known for her role as Gloria on King of Queens.
In this fast-paced comedy written in 1968 by Czech dissident Vaclav Havel, Dr. Eduard Hummel, a sociologist, is home nursing a cold when he is visited by a team of government researchers. Led by Dr. Betty Balthazar, they attempt to analyze Hummel’s personality using an Artificial Intelligence machine named Puzuk. Throughout the experiment, the sex crazed Hummel strings along his wife, mistress, and young student in a series of sexual indiscretions, creating a comic whirlwind of jealous women and slamming doors. When the Puzuk machine breaks down, Hummel cracks under pressure, and the emotions he has been repressing behind his intellectual, academic facade coming spilling out in a hilarious and chilling climax.
First performed in Prague in 1968, this production by The Next Arena marks the play’s West Coast Premiere of this new translation. Playwright Vaclav Havel, 72, has written over 20 plays. He was the most famous political dissident in Czechoslovakia and later served as first President of the Czech Republic for ten years. His best known play in America is The Memorandum.
Alex Lippard directs. He resides in New York City, where is the Artistic Director of Friendly Fire. Alex’s December 2008 Friendly Fire production of O’Neill’s A Touch of the Poet starring Daniel J. Travanti and Ellen Crawford was chosen by the Wall Street Journal as one of the top three revivals of the 2009 nyc theater season. Also at Friendly Fire, he directed Hecuba starring Kristin Linklater and ‘Tis Pity She’s A Whore. Recent credits include the Off-Broadway premieres of The Last Word starring Travanti and Sake with the Haiku Geisha at Perry St, Theater, Off-off-Broadway: Cupid and Psyche at Altered Stages and Frankie, The Gold Standard and Monsterface, all at Irish Arts Center. Alex won an Overall Excellence in Directing Award for for his direction of Moonchild starring two-time Emmy winner Heather Tom at the N.Y. International Fringe Festival.
The presenting company is The Next Arena, a five-year-old nonprofit ensemble of actors, writers, & directors who have been called “a young troupe to watch” by the LA Weekly. TNA brought you such critically successful comedies as Gogol’s Gamblers and The Angry Guy In The Pink Hat, and now they offer up this sex farce with an intellectual, absurdist bent for your enjoyment.
The cast includes Steve Hamill, Kristina Hayes, Bobby Reed, Scott Rognlien, Amy Stiller and Sarah Wolter. Associate producer: Jason Frost. Sound design: Sloe Slawinski. Lighting design: Matt Richter. Set design: Frederica Nascimento. Costume design: Shon Le Blanc.