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Adagio Teas
   Features  >  NY Theater Reviews

 
EMOJILAND
at The Duke on 42nd Street

CODED CHARACTERS
By SANDY MACDONALD


I’ve yet to employ an emoji. Have we not long since graduated from the crude semaphore stage of communication? Casting snobbery aside, I emerged from Ken Harrison and Laura Schein’s sprightly, clever musical sorely tempted to start. I would begin by according this show four Shooting Stars, in hopes of helping to launch it toward Broadway, which could use a bit more fizz right now.
 
Theater doesn’t always have to rattle or enlighten. It can just plain tickle – as does every tropish gesture employed by Lesli Margherita as the reigning “Princess” of her realm. Signature moves – beyond an impressive split – include filing her claw-like fake nails with an oversize emery board and posing for selfies with that popular tongue-hanging moue that’s meant to appear erotic but always looks moronic.
 
The Princess’ reign as top-dog egomaniac is threatened by the introduction of a new set of emojis, specifically one epicene, roly-poly “Prince” (Josh Lamon). Hilarious sibling-rivalry hijinks ensue. Balancing the silliness with heart-felt emotion, “Police Officer” (Felicia Boswell) and “Construction Worker” (Natalie Weiss) celebrate their workaday but nonetheless intense romance, “Work Together.” Meanwhile, lurking about the recesses of the dazzlingly high-tech set is the ostensibly suicidal “Skull”: goth-clad Lucas Steele (Great Comet of 1812), giving full rein to a voice that wouldn’t be amiss in the Met. He’s the only one, initially, to befriend the aptly labeled “Nerd Face” (The Visit’s George Abud), a newbie clearly destined to be bully-bait.
 
Will Nerd Face get the girl? That would be superficially perky but secretly depressive “Smiling Face with Smiling Eyes,” nicely played by co-author Schein. The odds look good. This is a classic romcom, after all – even if it happens to revolve around mere electronic blips.

 


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