MARLBORO -- The arrival of Goat in the Road Productions in Marlboro should be welcome news to everyone. Everyone, that is, except Al Gore.
Touring their comedy play, "Instant Misunderstanding," Goat in the Road’s William Bowling and Christopher Kaminstein put forth a new candidate to challenge Gore’s claim that he invented the Internet. Along the way, they pose some intriguing questions about technology and communication, information and truth, image and reality -- and they do it with slapstick, clowning, wordplay, song, dance, dialogue, gesturing, wrestling, funny accents and a hint of "Waiting for Godot."
Kingdom County Productions and Marlboro College present "Instant Misunderstanding" on Friday at 7:30 p.m., at Marlboro’s Whittemore Theater.
"It sort of started as a joke. We were interested in hearing that Al Gore had invented the Internet," said Bowling in an interview Tuesday afternoon. "We were interested that when you put something out in the world, especially in this era of 24-hour media, you immediately lose control of the message."
As a counter to Gore’s story, Bowling and Kaminstein, with the help of writer Sascha Stanton-Craven, introduce us to twin brothers, Johannes and Johannes Gutenberg, who are struggling to invent the internet and propel themselves into a confusing and uncertain future.
"It’s a piece that’s by no means historically accurate," warns Bowling.
Not accurate, maybe, but somehow very much on the mark. A hit of the 2012 New Orleans Fringe Festival, "Instant Misunderstanding" has been called "a linguistic tour de force through the meaninglessness of meaning and the implications of technology on language and culture" by the NOLA Defender. The New Orleans Times-Picayune wrote, "As the players rip breathlessly through perfectly choreographed slapstick, the central narrative is craftily revealed: a question about how technology affects communication, image and our perception of reality, and whether the tail is, in fact, wagging the dog."
"Technology is invented in response to problems. In the act of solving the problems, what technology has produced is a whole new set of problems," said Bowling.
"Instant Misunderstanding" is the third play in Goat in the Road’s political trilogy, following "Whatever Just Happened Didn’t Happen," inspired by the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky debacle, and "Our Man," which examines, deconstructs and re-constructs the image of Ronald Reagan, as told by his tennis racket. This time, Bowling, Kaminstein and Stanton-Craven contemplated communications and technology as they were watching the 2012 Obama and Romney presidential campaigns unfold.
"We were paying close attention to local news cycles," said Bowling. "The modern political era has become, in all intents and purposes, a kind of theater."
That all helped shape the piece, but mostly "Instant Misunderstanding" is there to be enjoyed more than analyzed.
"It points to allowing people to really sit in a seat of misunderstanding," Bowling said.
The cost of a seat of misunderstanding is $12. Tickets are available at the door, by calling 888-757-5559 or at KingdomCounty.org.
Continuing their Vermont tour, Goat in the Road presents "Instant Misunderstanding" on Saturday at 7:30 p.m., at Lyndon State College.