Review: "#txtshow (on the internet)" Virtually Makes Us All Playwrights
#txtshow (on the internet)
Created and performed by Brian Feldman
Presented by the 2020 Philadelphia Fringe Festival (September 10-October 4, 2020) and Rochester Fringe Festival (September 17-26, 2020) via Zoom
Tickets available at: Philadelphia Fringe; Rochester Fringe
|Brian Feldman as txt. Image courtesy Brian Feldman|
Feldman's shows through the Philadelphia and Rochester Fringe Festivals are taking place at the halfway point of #txtshow (on the internet)'s "International Virtual Tour," with the September 10th iteration marking the 100th performance of #txtshow since it made its irl debut in 2009. Audience members receive some instructions before the show that include that they will be keeping their video on and audio unmuted and that there may be adult content (depending, of course, on the audience itself). After a short introduction by screen manager Genny Yosco, txt (Feldman) sits down at a desk in a blank room, identifies himself, and thereafter solely relays what the audience types into the "script" chat. With the recommended gallery view, you can watch the other audience members reacting and contributing, in a sort of virtual version of a theater in the round; and the participation aspect infuses the proceedings with that frisson of risk that can come with live theater. In this, we might think of #txtshow in relation to the work of artists such as Marina Abramović as much as in relation to traditional theater.
|Image courtesy Brian Feldman|
At the same time that txt acts as a vessel, he also acts as an individual in how he chooses to express what he reads and how he fills the intermittent gaps between audience contributions (a little like a video game avatar's wait cycle). He also sometimes combines comments from different audience members in a way that evokes the exquisite corpse game of the Surrealists. In carrying all of this out, whether it's belting out part of Tommy Tutone's "Jenny" or commenting on the cuteness of someone's dog (*your examples will vary), Feldman has a charismatic presence and is extremely funny.
#txtshow (online) offers a unique theatrical experience, in both senses of that description. It seems like a great show to attend with a group of friends, especially if you have interesting friends. But even solo, #txtshow (online) is the most fun subverting the lines between audience and creator that you'll have this pandemic.
-John R. Ziegler and Leah Richards