Name Game

One of the hallmarks of a typical New York International Fringe Festival production is a subversion of culture, be it of the classical or "pop" variety. Trading on a recognizable brand name is one way for a Fringe show to stand out from the 200 others playing in the same 12-day span. Depending on the strength of the gimmick, the result can be anywhere from "Oh, O.K., I get the reference" mediocre to "Look how funny this sacred cow is!" clever. Coming into Lost: How a Certain TV Mega Hunk Stole My Identity, your typical Lost addict is looking for a fix in the face of another six months without new episodes of the ABC mega-hit. (Or maybe it's just me.) On that point, the production does not disappoint. There are liberal uses of the show's incidental music as well as a video cameo by Michael "Ben Linus" Emerson.

However, the story is mainly about Josh Halloway, a monologist from New York who is amused and then threatened by the similarity between his name and that of Josh Holloway, the actor who plays roguish con man Sawyer on Lost. Because of his grandfather Harry Hurwitz's last-minute search for a new, non-Jewish surname before his vaudevillian debut, Halloway ("with an A") has become one of the "nomenclaturally challenged." He struggles with self-esteem, a girlfriend who tries to make him over into Josh Holloway's (with an o) image, and has an uplifting meeting with Peter Sellars ("with an a"—not the dead Pink Panther comedian but the opera director).

There is a nice mix of reality and surreal bits in the piece. One could make a comparison to Woody Allen's early stand-up routines, but every skinny, intellectual-looking Jewish comedian gets that label these days, and the last thing that Halloway needs is to be confused with another famous guy. The bottom line is that it's a funny, entertaining show. You don't need to be a Lost fan to get it, but it helps.

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