There are two basic camps in the debate over art's purpose. The first, basically idealist, argues that art should enlighten. The artist's sacred duty is to present the truth of our reality, or, at the least, the truth of the artist's reality, no matter how bleak or brutal. The second camp, however, tends more toward escapism. It contends that reality in all its misery is ever-present. Why use art to deliver a second dose of it when art is the only means most people have to momentarily step out of it?
In Marc Spitz's new comedy, The Name of This Play Is Talking Heads, now playing at Under St. Marks, the two factions again take up this never-ending skirmish. The difference here, as opposed to the debates that ceaselessly appear in publications and programs devoted to the arts, is that one of the two parties has the added rejoinder of a loaded firearm.
The battlefield, appropriately enough, is the studio of a TV music channel where a typically vapid segment, called the "Top 100 Most Rockatrocious Moments in Rock History," is being taped. (Think of such watersheds of vulgarity as Jerry Lee Lewis marrying his teenaged cousin, or the revelation that Michael Jackson's penis is multicolored, to use just two of the examples Spitz himself cheerily points up.)
The idealist thrown into this escapist stronghold is Pete (Brian Reilly), a writer for Headphones magazine. Initially under the impression that he has been invited on the show to share his knowledge of music and the culture surrounding it, he is quickly disillusioned when he sees the channel's staple comedian, Frankie (Matt Higgins), being force-fed his opinions by Tom (James Eason), the show's director. However, Pete's disillusionment quickly gives way to outright rebellion