In 2000 Rob Ackerman made an impressive debut with Tabletop, a play about the cutthroat world of television commercials. Centered around a dictatorial director hell-bent on the perfect close-up of a fruit drink topped with a swirl, the play raised a number of issues about art, commerce, and workplace politics. Ackerman’s newest work, Dropping Gumballs on Luke Wilson, in an excellent production by Working Theater, serves as a companion piece to Tabletop. Also set in a television-commercial sound studio, Gumballs satirically reveals the moral compromises individuals make when confronted with artistic, economic, or personal intimidation.
A production of Working Theater, Alternating Currents is part historical pageant play, part romantic drama, and part social commentary. As part of the company’s Five Boroughs/One City initiative, Adam Kraar’s play, directed by Kareem Fahmy, evolved from interviews with residents of Queens as part of the company’s mission “to create theater for and about working people.” Currents is set in the present at Electchester, an actual complex of 38 buildings in Flushing. But Electchester’s best days were around its founding by Harry Van Arsdale, a benevolent overlord who walked the grounds following construction in 1949.