D-Lounge / Daryl Roth Theatre / NYC
Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm
In the world of film production, there is a phrase that entertainment reporters often slap into their coverage called “development hell.” This is the period between the inception of an idea and the point at which it gets the greenlight, as it has been deemed ready to shoot. In the theatre world, this phase happens in front of a live audience on a regular basis. These productions are called workshops or staged readings or whatever. Storyteller, Brit Herring (perhaps best known for his voiceover work in projects like “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” on Saturday mornings, leads one such project in development with a little show in a little space in the big city of New York. His material in “The Devil and Billy Markham” comes from Shel Silverstein’s racy serial in Playboy Magazine dating back to 1979 (apparently, he had some not so childlike thoughts after the sidewalk ended). It’s a story about making a deal with the devil. A to-Hell-and-back road trip with witticisms and naughtiness to spare, the story is worth sharing, though I can’t say that the format works out. With a small and underused band behind him, Herring delves into the peaks and valleys of this narrative like Jim Carrey by way of William H. Macy with plenty of joie de vivre. The story, however, seems geared towards an audience of dramaturgs more than the average Tom, Dick, and Esteban. It really wants to live on the page, or as a short film, maybe a graphic novel or a radio play…but not the sweaty one-act that we watch as a teeny-tiny audience who are basically sitting on top of the stage. Check out the story for a nice little vignette of an anti-Silverstein care of the man himself. This production is hopefully on the path to somewhere else with a little more production behind it. But that doesn’t mean that we need to escort it along the way.