SO-SO SENECA: FET show falls flat

unnamedThe Reallotment of Seneca Nation will be performed Friday, April 10 at 7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. and Saturday, April 11 at 8 p.m.

Reallotment could’ve used a few more rewrites!

Though The Reallotment of Seneca Nation scores some laughs thanks to a talented cast, the plot is too busy for the audience to get fully invested in any of the proceedings.

When Olivia Elby gets a $2 million share in her uncle’s casino when he dies, she and her dad dream of leaving the dung heap that they manage on the edge of town. But first she must contend with the casino’s other shareholders: the wealthy Pantuso crime family, which is laundering drugs to a local Indian tribe, and the Seneca tribe itself, which has become dangerously addicted to the toxic brew and is obsessed with singer “Jimmy Muffett.” 

Olivia is thrust into the middle of this conflict as she tries to negotiate with the Senecas and gain information on the Pantusos by wearing a wire for the DEA.

Each one of these story strands has potential, but writer Tom Perry and directors Perry and Jeff Sharkey do not make the most of their material — only the “Jimmy Muffett” storyline concludes in a completely satisfactory way.

Perry and Sharkey do well with the technical details. The sets are simple, economizing by using stumps as chairs in the dung heap scenes. Well-placed posters and wheelbarrows are cleverly used as props.

Most of the costumes are simple, but the Elbys’ undone overalls (along with some of the rich swag Mr. Elby buys when he thinks he has money) are well thought out. Even the incidental music is fun- the entire audience had the “Jeffersons” theme song ringing through their head by the end of the night.

Elle Crane makes Olivia a funny country bumpkin — her DEA training session is the show’s biggest laugh-getter. As her dad, James Murtagh gives his every look and gesture a humorous touch. (The fact that he has some hilarious lines about hating the dung heap helps too.)

Sam Farnum plays Pantuso as an exaggerated Italian gangster, and it works- his weird obsession with his sister (the equally amusing Morgan Conley) is a strangely humorous quirk. As the family’s taciturn bodyguard Pinto, Connor O’Brien is a droll comic foil.

When the “Muffett”-obsessed brothers are first introduced, Stephen Kipp and Nick Pappas seem to be playing simple stoner stereotypes. As their story goes on, however, they experiment with different acting muscles and different types of humor, and their soft-spoken style works to their advantage.

Jonathan O’Neill narrates the show — while always a welcome presence on the Fordham stage, his character never really serves a comic purpose until the end of the play. The few thinly written segments he has before the conclusion are pretty pointless.

The ensemble cast of The Reallotment of Seneca Nation is made up of some of Fordham’s best actors. Sadly, the material they have to work with is pretty thin soup.

Though this critic won’t be here to see it, here’s hoping FET’s student-written shows can regain a My Personal HellCowboys Don’t Sing quality next year.

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