I Just Want My Pants Back

‘I Just Want My Pants Back’ marks MTVs move away from reality, towards scripted television. ‘I Just Want My Pants Back’, based off David J. Rosen’s book of the same name, charts a group of new graduates in Brooklyn. Already solidly targeted at a clear audience, the show is quick to show that it can be edgy.

Not unlike the failed Skins USA, MTVs failed remake of Skins UK, the show jumps to establish its gritty up-frontness with alcohol, drug use and references to meaningless sex within the first few minutes. Why even the opening line is even a reference to masturbating (they don’t want to scare off the Jersey Shore crowd with anything too high brow).

The world of story is clear and it’s obvious that they are targeting hipsters. Indie music sways hipsterishly in the background as the characters chat about sex droughts, trying to find a better job and struggling to get tickets to a hip band. The show is Brookyn-centric, showing Jason in Brooklyn stations, bars and the kind pompous eco-fashion shoots that could only happen in the borough.

The dialogue is witty and quick. Lead protagonist Jason, a Jewish recent graduate, plays the nerdy but adorable card. I can’t help but imagine that he might be a grown up, but still just as sexually frustrated, Seth Cohen from the O.C. A good move, as the teenagers who watched Adam Brody in the O.C are probably graduates now themselves.

Supporting Jason, played by Peter Vack, are a host of dynamic and varied characters. Kim Shaw plays Tina, Jason’s unapologetically slutty best friend. Always the ultimate wingman, the beautiful blonde is given a host of mantra like lines that would rival Barney Stinson. For example, ‘take the deal. Otherwise a hand job is a man’s job and get out at the light and mind my vagina.’ Some lines can seem like they are trying too hard to be witty, but her candid promiscuity is refreshing. In the pilot she refers to only dating a guy because he has an air conditioner, and offering to be felt up for a free taxi ride.

The dickhead boss J.B, played by Chris Parnell, is sure to be a favourite. The comic was made famous by Saturday Night Live and his role as Dr Spaceman in 30 Rock. His dry, douchebagish, bordering on racist humor pigeon holes him into the ultimate obnoxious boss. The natural enemy of any recently graduated young professional.

Indian deli worker, Bobby, is a little contrived. He becomes comic relief, commenting on situations and taking the liberty to judge their social situations.  For example, telling Tina that the boy she’s seeing is gay, saying ‘you look like you need a pregnancy test’ and calling her ‘whore friend of Jason.’ On one hand, Bobby is a stereotype and many cheap laughs are played out from it, such as ‘in my country we say (Saying in Indian) Ugly girl blames mirror.’ But on the other he is intriguing as a main character. I hope the develop him further than just a recurring comic relief.

Stacy and Eric play the uptight college sweet hearts trying to keep their relationship together and go to graduate school. They add a realistic touch to the world but they are by far the most boring characters.

Overall, ‘I Just Want My Pants Back’ exceeded my expectations. The witty, quick humour and relatable characters will keep you in engaged. Think a spunky, sluttier F.R.I.E.N.D.S for the hipster generation. As they always say, add attractive twenty somethings in New York, document their lives and you’ve got a show.

The Good Person of Szechwan

‘The Good Person of Szechwan’ directed by Ashley Kelly Tata was a highly memorable reinterpretation of Brecht. Traditional Brechtian techniques were harnessed but altered to create a piece that was eerie and absurdist. Its distinct aesthetic was reminiscent of Edward Scizzorhands, with large eighties hair and outlandish make up. Staged at the Riverside Theatre, the play fit all too snugly in the context of the recession.

Combined with Tata’s direction the set was used to create dynamic, shocking images. Most notable was the theatrical imagery displayed in ‘The Song of The Eight Elephants’. Orange lighting combined with the mechanical dance choreography created a distinctive dystopia while high pitch singing and hair-nets only added to the scene.

This quirky atmosphere was echoed in the intriguing music. Paul Pinto matched the feel of the piece wonderfully using eerie guitar plucks and a cello. Inventive sound effects such as pouring a watercan into a steel bowl to evoke rain, were also used.

New Media was harnessed to a great extent. Direct address was shown through a camera attached to the roof. This was used to great humorous effect when Mrs Shin tries to figuring out who Shen Te is talking to, breaking the illusion.

The characterisation of the Gods was by far my favourite. The Gods were presented as the cookie cutter perfect American family, on the tip of mental break down. Stylised movements and melodrama was used to great effect. Tata projected the gods on a white sheet, but also allowed the audience to see the Gods being filmed in front of a green screen behind. A transparency of technique that I’m sure Brecht would applaud.

Notable actors were Mrs Shin played by Kate Hamill, Wang The Water Seller by Micheal Brahce and all of the Gods.