The Receipt at 59E59
More a series of skits (or, at times, mere ideas for skits) than a fully-realized play, The Receipt is nonetheless a mercilessly charming and often funny 80-minute show by Will Adamsdale and Chris Branch, two clever young blokes who you will definitely hear more about in the future. Performed as part of the Brits Off Broadway festival currently going on at the spanking-new theaters at 59E59, the show begins with our two heroes—narrator and "lead" actor Adamsdale; sound effects guy and all-other-characters Branch—acting as archaeologists of sorts, puzzling over the artifacts from a city that sounds a lot like 2007 London, or New York. This leads to riffs on all manner of modern woes and idiocies, from ubiquitous advertising ("These people had such short memories they needed to be told everything: 'Eat here.' 'Buy this.'...) to our enslavement by technology.
Then the "plot" kicks in for a bit: the story of a man who finds a receipt on the sidewalk and, in a desperate need for some kind of connection, seeks out the piece of litter's owner. Then it's back to more stand-up—often incorporating well-done audio punchlines—and vaguely related SNL-like routines, the back to the story, etc. Among the themes explored are extreme urban alienation, corporate inanity a la The Office, bureaucracy of all kinds (even at a Starbucks-like coffee shop), the extreme insincerity of branding, and the lameness of adult contemporary music (you'll never hear "You're Beautiful" again without giggling).
The bad news: The Receipt has finished its run. Sorry for the late review, but Debbie, her parents, and I just saw it last Friday night, to unanimous appreciation. The good news: there are plenty of other things happening at the nicely-designed and comfortable 59E59 (located at, yes, 59 East 59th Street), including more Brits Off-Broadway productions, through July 1.