Honored for being a "Unique Theatrical Experience" by the Drama Desk, and extended from a three-month run to a seven-month, sold-out smash; Off Off-Broadway's Charlie Victor Romeo closes May 27 at the Collective: Unconscious [sic] Theatre. All remaining performances are sold out for the drama, in which the performers act out the final minutes of real plane flights that crashed. ("CVR" is the acronym for Cockpit Voice Recorder" -- aka, the little, indestructible black box that records transmissions to and from the pilots.)
Collective: Unconscious works out of a tiny, 54-seat storefront on Ludlow Street of NYC's Lower East Side. Audiences for CVR are seated on folding chairs and risers and, at first, greeted by stewardesses who go through the usual cautionary procedures about oxygen masks and emergency exits. The rest of the evening is set in the cockpit as we watch pilots cope with such unexpected horrors as birds getting sucked into the engine, broken control panels, wind shear and malfunctioning equipment. All dialogue is taken from undoctored cvr transcripts; each segment ends with the number of actual casualties.
Adding to the show's nightmarish feel is Jamie Mereness' Drama Desk Award-winning sound design, featuring buzzers, beeps and alarms punctuating the ever-present hum of aircrafts. Co-designing the piece are Pat Daniels (set) and Peter O'Clair (lighting).
Produced and directed by Bob Berger, Patrick Daniels and Irving Gregory (who also appear in the show), CVR features Julia Berger, Michael Bruno, Audrey Crabtree, Justin Davila, Jim Grady, Dan Krumm, Stuart Rudin, Darby Thompson and Oliver Wyman.
In a February 2000 interview with Time Out - NY, Berger noted, "We didn't want to trivialize or sensationalize anything. We knew that this would have to be really straight and really serious. It's very sensitive stuff." Charlie Victor Romeo opened October 21, 1999 and was initially scheduled to run through mid-January 2000, then through April 1, 2000. For information call (212) 254-5277 or check out Collective: Unconscious' website at http://www.weird.com.
-- By David Lefkowitz