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Open: 06/10/10- Close: 06/19/10 Hack! An I.t. Spaghetti Western
Reviewed for By: Lauren Wissot

The reason The Brick Theater in Williamsburg, Brooklyn is one of the most innovative venues in NYC is because its artistic directors Michael Gardner and Robert Honeywell are in fact true artists - meaning they're not afraid to take risks. And now with their Too Soon Festival running through June 27th they've bet the farm on a wild array of productions with names like "Jeannine's Abortion: A Play in One Trimester" and the Salinger-themed "RIP JD." Of course, names can be deceiving and it was just my luck to pick the rare dud of the bunch. The Impetuous Theater Group's "Hack! An I.T. Spaghetti Western," unfortunately, is only half-baked.

 Written by Crystal Skillman and directed by John Hurley, the duo who recently brought "The Vigil or The Guided Cradle" to The Brick, the show concerns a trio of I.T. workers who must sniff out the hacker lurking among them - or at least try to put the blame on one another. But this story of "the Good the Bad and the Geek" is still stuck in the concept stage, unfocused and cluttered, and consists of two separate parts that lack any tonal coherence. On the one hand "Hack!" pays zany homage to Sergio Leone through its piped in, spaghetti western soundtrack snippets and a cartoon-like Clint Eastwood character called Cal (played by Joseph Mathers, who also doubles as the fight choreographer, in one of the few strong performances). On the other hand, there's the banally realistic office setting peopled by unconvincing actors self-consciously acting.


Yet buried beneath a series of easy gimmicks, including the idea to stage the show as a "Live DVD Cut" (meaning the performers sometimes "rewind" and "fast forward" to different episodes) and a Hannah Montana number tossed in for cutesy measure, a much stronger foundation lies. Toss out the diet pill-popping and Red Bull-swilling antics used to distract our attention from the truth that hacking is not theatrical - in fact throw away the entire office storyline - and what's left is a simpler, deeper tale of two brothers. The grizzled, cigar-smoking Cal is also sibling to good guy Brian (played by Mark Souza another fine performer), the officer of the law tasked to take him down. Sure Cal is an ex-con but he's also a loving father with a gravely ill daughter. And when this gruff, black hat hacker delivers a monologue about being able to fix a virus but not his own child - while deftly resurrecting a dead cell phone - one can't help but wish for the play to finally crash like an ancient PC. Only then could it possibly be rebuilt in real Italian, spaghetti western style, with more saucy heart and much less shiny silicon.

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