Battling Gadgetry. Bill Irwin creates a wordless masterpiece. THEATER: REVIEW
NEW YORK — LARGELY NEW YORK Comedy written and directed by Bill Irwin. Starring Mr. Irwin and friends. Choreography by Mr. Irwin and Kimi Okada. WHAT a treat! There they are - the inimitable Bill Irwin and his agile Friends - up on the stage of the St. James Theatre, giving Broadwayites as entertaining a diversion as they've had all season. Mr. Irwin's ``Largely New York'' is an extended one-act comedy without words - but with plenty of action. Instead of man against nature, the surreal plot pits man against technology. He is the Post-Modern Hoofer (Mr. Irwin), an everyman for all gadgets with a remote control for all occasions and an instruction book to guide him.
Having more or less mastered the device, the Hoofer dons a top hat, grasps a white cane, and goes into a soft-shoe shuffle to the nostalgic strains of ``Tea for Two.'' Needless to say, he hasn't reckoned with interruptions.
First come the Poppers (Leon Chesney and Steve Clemente), whose huge portable boom box provides rock-and-rap accompaniments for the spectacular break dancing the Hoofer tries to emulate. Next appears the Soloist (Margaret Egington), a lithe modern dancer in red leotard. The Hoofer is smitten.
The Videographer (Dennis Diamond) and his Assistant (Debra Elise Miller) introduce the Hoofer into the mysteries of television. His experiments with a TV camera and the ubiquitous monitor inspire some of Mr. Irwin's most hilarious and electronically ingenious gags. For further urban fun and games, there are the herdlike academics in caps, gowns, and spectacles, led by the Dean (Jeff Gordon), whose specialty is a series of breathtaking leaps into the orchestra pit.
Director Irwin somehow brings all the elements of his zany comedy to a good-humored but touching finale. Perhaps these largely New Yorkers can learn to coexist. Meanwhile, their comic masterpiece is a tribute not only to the chief clown and his fellow performers but to a production team that includes Douglas Stein (scenery), Rose Pederson (costumes), Nancy Schertler (lighting), Bob Bielecki (sound), and Dennis Diamond and Video D Studios (video design).