Genre: Comedy, Drama
©Zita Bradley
David Scott Milton

The play is a dark comedy about Leonard Pelican, a paranoid night clerk in a seedy Times Square hotel, circa 1970, who thinks that the Russians are coming...for him! He is pursued throughout the play by his paranoid fantasy: a KGB agent named Vassily Ilianovich Chort. The play, then, is the eccentric whirl of Leonard's entrapment of Chort while the gravelly-voiced Bolshevik is zeroing in for the kill. One actor plays both parts. It's a play of lively absurdity, cruel comedy and pathos, with hilarious chase scenes and madcap physical comedy.

The piece was originally developed by The American Place Theatre. The archives of the Theatre reveal that the part was originally offered to Marty Feldman and Alan Arkin. Directed by Martin Fried, with Herb Edelman as Pelican, it was presented by The American Place Theatre in 1970. Clive Barnes, writing in the New York Times, described it as a comic commentary on Gogol's "Diary of a Madman," built on a daring concept, funny and touching. Barnes credited actor Herb Edelman and director Martin Fried with bringing off a tour de force. Fried subsequently directed Ben Gazzara in the part on Broadway in 1975 in a double-bill with Eugene O'Neill's "Hughie." Barnes deemed Ben Gazzara's Broadway double-bill "a smashing evening of theater."

The piece was originally written in 1970 as a solo turn for one actor. Jonathan Slaff's performance is likely to be more comedic than that of any previous actor in the part.

Director Stanley Allan Sherman has enlarged the play's concept slightly by adding live actors to replace sound effects and dummies in making the background life of the hotel. Using the playscript as a commedia dell' arte scenario, a two-person ensemble of David Zen Mansley and Rachel Krah will enact the hotel patrons with live voices back stage and will add comedic surprises.

Open:   01/28/10
Close:   02/14/10

Thursdays through Saturdays at 8:00 pm; Sundays at 3:00 pm.
Theater:   Theater For The New City
Address:   155 First Avenue
New York, NY 10009
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Take the L train to 1st Avenue or the 6 train to Astor Place

Cost:$10 or Call: Box Office at (212) 254-1109