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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Review- Frequency Hopping (Hourglass Group)

The Fab Marquee review by A.K. Gobble.

If I told you that a famous Hollywood film star and a sought after composer were responsible for the development of unique technology that ultimately gave us cell phones, would you believe me? Actually, why take my word for it? Go see for yourself…

Joseph Urla as George & Erica Newhouse as Heddy
photo credit: Dixie Sheridan

Frequency Hopping is the unbelievable true story of Heddy Lamarr, an Austrian born actress who became famous in the 1940’s and George Antheil, an Avant-Garde composer also known as the “bad boy of music”. After meeting randomly at a party, they developed an unlikely friendship that gave birth to one of the greatest inventions of our time. Between personal conversations and subtle flirtations they schemed to develop a special communication system. A system that would benefit the military forces and be able to control armed torpedoes over long distances without the enemy’s ability to detect or block them. Their invention made history!

This two character, Multi Media play, was presented at the 3D Technical Art Center. As soon as you walked in the room you could feel that something special was going to happen. The stage was set in between two transparent screens that were used for video installations and special effects. Both the left side and the right side of the stage were graced with a beautiful orchestra made out of several gorgeous Yamaha pianos and percussion instruments that were hanging from the ceiling. What’s so special you say? Well, here’s the kicker- they were all programmed to play on their own. A robotic orchestra! What an amazing concept. The visuals were absolutely exhilarating! And when it all came together you really felt like you were transported into another world.

Erica Newhouse as Heddy & Joseph Urla as George
photo credit: Dixie Sheridan

This wonderful play was both written and directed by Elise Singer who obviously did some research. In her development of the relationship between the two stars she made funny leaps between childish games and serious foreplay, all while keeping us on our toes and expecting some big dramatic climax. Unfortunately the climax failed to come and the play felt somewhat repetitive. The lack of dramatic arc gave the feeling of being stuck in one place. At a certain point the sexual flirtations between the two characters developed into a passionate kiss that once was over, was never brought up again leaving me a bit confused. On another note I was slightly overwhelmed by the many technical details that were discussed and though I personally happen to know a thing or two about the subject, I found myself needing to focus hard in order to take it all in. Still I enjoyed myself and even learned something new.

Joseph Urla as George & Erica Newhouse as Heddy
photo credit: Dixie Sheridan

Erica Newhouse who played Lamarr was just as beautiful as the real girl, bringing out her sexy and feminine side. She was needy, lonely and manipulative all at the same time. George Antheil who was played by Joseph Urla was sweet, honest, sad and playful, making him very relatable.

I would definitely recommend checking it out, if not for the interesting history then at least for the fantastic technology.
Hourgalss Group presents
Elise Singer’s
Frequency Hopping
directed by Elise Singer; Original Score by Joshua Fried
May 29th-June 29th; Wed.-Sat. at 8pm & Sun. at 3pm
3LD Art & Technology Center

Tickets are $20. To buy tickets, call 212-352-3101 or visit

3LD Art & Technology Center | 80 Greenwich Street | Manhattan.

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