'ZONE 3' REFRESHING, CYNICAL AND ABSURD
April 26, 1998 By ROBERT TRUSSELL Publication: The Kansas City Star
What: ``Zone 3,'' a new play by Ron Simonian Where: Unicorn Theatre When: Friday, April 24; continues through May 10 (ticket information: 531-PLAY) Audience: 120 (approx.) Superior performances and crisp direction get the most out of ``Zone 3,'' an absurdist satire from Ron Simonian. This two-act effort is officially billed as a ``dark comedy'' and is, indeed, often very funny. As usual, Simonian's excessive reliance on durable Anglo-Saxon epithets and ridiculously obscene rhetoric grates on the ears before the evening is done, and at times he dilutes an audacious approach by going for the easy laugh. Even so, this is an refreshing burst of creativity from the unpredictable playwright. The result may be a bit muddled, but he scores with cynical observations of politics and the media. The title refers to a supersecret agency that specializes in faking the deaths of politicians, film stars, members of royalty and the like, expressly so that the American people will have no shortage of conspiracy theories to feed on. The ultimate goal of the agency is to keep us so distracted that we never focus on the true nature of the government and what the unseen entities controlling it are really up to. The famous people thus removed are sent, apparently, to live in a basement complex somewhere while the Zone 3 agents litter the news media with ``conspiracy'' clues. The actors under Ernest L. Williams' direction make the material sing - even when hurdling over obstacles posed by Simonian's penchant for adolescent humor. Mark Robbins and David Fritts, as the principal Zone 3 agents, deliver flawless comic performances. That comes as no surprise in light of their reputations as two of the city's best actors. Robbins is the weary supervisor burdened by responsibilities, and Fritts is the frustrated loose cannon; together they generate many of the show's most amusing passages. Their colleagues claim their fair share of fine moments as well.Tess Brubeck offers an appropriately strident performance as Vanessa DeMarco, a film star who seems modeled, at least superficially, on Holly Hunter. Dan Barnett is very good as the tabloid editor with delusional notions about journalistic integrity, and Jeffrey Metzger is impressive in multiple roles, including Senator Rose - a publicly pious but privately depraved politician. The Kansas City Star Date: April 26, 1998 Page: B4 Copyright 1998 The Kansas City Star Co.