The societal changes that are go along with the latest global pandemic are transforming human interaction in ways that society is only beginning to comprehend. Cooperative Performance explores the nature of truth and human connection in the age of COVID with director/creator
Andrew Coopman’s RE: Social/Divide. The pre-produced 90-minute dramatic comedy features a rather large ensemble playing a group of writers and editors for a publication as they navigate the complexities of life and work via videoconference.
The 90-minute show consists of many, many little scenes outlining a week in the life of the magazine. It’s a highly episodic plot that plays very much like highlights from an entire season of a well-written sitcom. Not every single moment is brilliant, but the RE: Social/Divide holds more than enough moments to hold together for a fun 90 minute week with an enjoyable group of characters. New York-based actor Benjamin Neumayer plays editor of a publication the employs an appealingly diverse group of writers. Julia Gorordo (who also wrote some particularly poignant music for the show) appealingly plays tenacious serious journalist Kate. Maria Rojkova brings some remarkably heartfelt emotionality as Elvira: the privaely conflicted sexy social influencer working for the publication.
There’s a whole lot of subtlety in a script that seems modeled after video serial sitcoms that have a tendency to lean in a far lighter, less complicated direction. Of particular note here is Niv Joshi as a sweetly enigmatic gossip columnist who seems almost impossible to read socially even though she seems almost completely open an earnest in casual conversation. In some of the better scenes in the show, Joshi reaches an impressive amount of characterization with relatively little screen time.
One of the more intricate dramatic moments in the show happens between well-meaning aspiring black community ally Shannon Annabelle (Ashley Retzlaff-Rogaczewski) appears on the “Spill the Tea” podcast hosted by Reenah and Teenah (Aria Caldwell and Kayla V. White.) Race relations are dizzyingly complicated. Retzlaff-Rogaczewski manages a thoughtful rendering of a woman who really IS trying to connect-up through an earnest appreciation of black culture. Caldwell and White sharply render a couple of characters caught in a particularly difficult moment for themselves socially and professionally.
The Reenah/Teenah/“Shannabelle” plot has more than enough weight to carry a feature-length drama. It might feel a little light mixed-in with everything else, but then...so does the plight of Elvira and...well...A LOT of the rest of what’s going on in a very large ensemble piece which comfortably presents a hell of a lot more story than one might expect from a single 90 minute program. Audiences are getting a great deal of content for only $15...it’s a remarkably tight, little package of drama and comedy.
Cooperative Performance’s RE: Social/Divide is streaming on demand through April 11th on Vimeo. For ticket reservations and more, visit Cooperative Performance online.