Zoom "Musical" Sets New Low Bar

Dispatches from the Highlands

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Billed as one of the standalone great cultural moments of the otherwise crappy year, the production of "Mai Tai or Die" which utilized home webcams of over 100 actors and extras, utterly failed Friday night in a terribly-rated performance so bad that it triggered one attendee to brutally maim their own computer. Plagued with on-air gaffes like feedbacking audio, frozen video and flat-out stoned leads missing their cues, the 2-hour show had lost nearly half of its virtual audience by the intermission and ended with an accidental live feed of its explosively nauseous director.

Portraying the story of a couple who finally go on the vacation of their dreams, the cast had to overcome huge hurdles, such as feigning tropical surroundings, especially while sedentary in their own separate homes. Some had painted their own physical backdrops, but the general inability to coordinate settings caused more confusion than without. At one point, chorus line ‘villagers’ were simultaneously dancing in daylight and night, while still others had loaded custom backgrounds like barren wastelands or their own photos of cats.

Jezebel Virgo, whose short story was adapted for the script, also attended. At times heard sobbing, she finally left her desk and never returned, after lead actor Stueben Willis paused the entire ordeal so he could run to the bathroom. In another awkward pause, Bryan O’Lewis’ poignant soliloquy was cut short when his mother popped in looking for a laundry basket.

The pit band, also joining by webcam, played a disappointingly lagged-out performance that synced for mere seconds during the ten minutes of pure cacophony between acts. Somewhere, a baby cried, a dog barked incessantly, and a car alarm sounded, all while the romantic leads made kissy faces into the air as if in loving embrace. When someone’s on-air, blazed coughing fit endured for several minutes, actress Dabra L’amour broke fourth wall to scream at the audience to mute their microphones when smaking their bongs.

Perhaps most telling was the lack of effort on behalf of the show's production crew; many staff members were rumored to have submitted formal resignation immediately following a disastrous pajamas-dress-rehearsal that reportedly ended prematurely when the actors veered off script to discuss The Queen's Gambit. 

At the climax of the final reprise--with main characters fighting off spies using fresh fish as weapons--an attendee was witnessed bludgeoning his own computer in a frenzy, with what looked like a homemade billyclub, until finally the video feed went black. Those few who witnessed the solemn moment of disgruntled rage could only describe it as “terrifying.”

The low point of the night came near the end of the play when director Marty Finkelstein, camera off, accidentally flipped it back on in the middle of ripping a 3-foot steamroller. The puff was followed by an epic, vomitous explosion into a nearby garbage can.

Critics of the production drew comparisons to virtual kindergarten classrooms, and other symbols of disorder like Fyre Festival and The Marx Brother’s Duck Soup. But on one item, they were all unanimous: the format, the production, everything was rubbish. “Clearly, Broadway does not mix well with the Zoom,” said Dispatches theater critic Nancy Sykes. “Anyone who calls this kind of nonsense entertainment has clearly lost their minds.”

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