Arts & Culture » Arts

Carpenter Square's 'Dead Guy' satirizes reality TV with caustic comedy



., she has a killer idea on her mind, literally.

Finding self-absorbed slacker Eldon Phelps sloppy drunk in a bar, she pitches it to him: "The Dead Guy" will be the reality show to end all reality shows. The contestant will be filmed 24-7 as he spends a million dollars any way he wants.
Then, at the end of seven days, he agrees to be killed by whatever method the viewers decide.

Has America got the stomach for this? You bet. Ratings go through the roof. Although Carpenter Square Theatre could hardly have prophesied we'd be stuck in a morass of reality shows right now due to the recent writers' strike, it makes "The Dead Guy" even more pertinent.

It's fascinating to watch Eldon move from annoying loser to a likable redneck with a conscience. Will American let the popular "Dead Guy" actually be killed? The twists at the end will not be revealed here.

Eric Coble, who also wrote the dark "Bright Ideas" recently produced by Carpenter, always has more on his mind than the acidic wit that cloaks his plays.

As the up-against-it, harried producer, Lilli Bassett mostly hits the mark, although by making her conflicted early on, we miss the emotional pivot this essentially ruthless character must make. We never quite get that moment.

The change is better realized for Eldon, played by natural Chad Alan Baker. Affable and charismatic, Baker moves effortlessly through the careening last days of Eldon's life finally to emerge truly alive. "?Linda McDonald


Latest in Arts

Add a comment