With the rise of audiences with lower attention spans, a high school theatre department decides to present seven plays at once and arm their audience with the ability to press a button and toggle between the different shows when they get bored. While the idea is innovative, it quickly backfires when even the House Manager can’t finish his opening speech. The various characters involved in the plays can barely get the minimum of information needed to follow the plot across before they are quickly zapped off the stage. When the plays start running into each other, the actors grow annoyed and begin to break character. Some of them can’t even remain in character to begin with. The play grows more and more hectic as the audience increasingly zaps between the plays.
While the concept of Paul Fleischman’s zap is interesting, the plays being satirized are not necessarily taught during high school and the actors playing the roles may not understand the source material they are riffing off. The plot itself is difficult to follow because of the frequent shifts and the ending most incoherent. The mere presence of Shakespeare’s Richard III in the play is baffling since the actors can barely squeeze out one exchange before a different play replaces them. In the end, zap feels like a play that was written more to allow more interested actors roles to play rather than to provide any sort of story. Even the audience, if unaware of the plays being satirized or of theatrical trends is likely to be lost in the hubbub.
© 2016 Catia Cunha
Catia Cunha has a BA in Theater Arts and English from Mount Holyoke College. She won Young Playwrights Inc.'s 2013 National Playwriting Competition where her short play "Legs" was presented as a staged reading at the Lucille Lortel Theatre at the culmination of the Conference. In the spring of 2013 she produced and acted in her first full-length play, ____space, which was presented at Mount Holyoke. Catia's senior project, Disinsemination, a play about feminist lesbians and aliens, was presented as a staged reading at Smith College and Mount Holyoke in Fall 2013. Mount Holyoke's Rooke Theatre produced it in March 2014. In October 2014 Catia participated in the Grex Group's Insomniacs 24-hour play festival. She is currently working on a play about sea monsters in the subway.