|DeLillo´s Valparaiso At Sacred Fools|
Review by Willard Manus
LOS ANGELES -- Don DeLillo, one of America's leading novelists, also writes the occasional play--The Day Room and now, VALPARAISO, a wicked little satire of our media- and celebrity-obsessed age which has been well-directed for Sacred Fools by David L M McIntyre.
Michael Majeski (the excellent Thomas Craig Elliott) is a company man whose trip to Valparaiso, Indiana turns into a deadpan comedy of errors. Somehow, instead of landing in the midwest he ends up in Valparaiso, Chile. As Majeski says, "this non-event changed my life."
Act One consists of Majeski trying to comprehend how his trip could have gone so astray. The airline is as equally befuddled as he is but hides its incompetence behind corporate doublespeak (delivered by the sardonic Liesel Kopp). Majeski's wife Livia (Dee Nelson in another vivid performance) tries to put the best face on things, no matter how bizarre they become. She's such a good little helpmeet that she almost makes you gag.
A youthful film crew (John Wuchte, Robert Tobin and Kopp again) intrudes to make a documentary, babbling cinema-verite jargon all the while.
Act Two gets even wilder and funnier when the famed TV hostess, Delfina Treadwell (the perky Julie Alexander), interviews the Majeskis on her much-watched morning show. Aided by her hardboiled sidekick Teddy Hodell (Tobin again), Delfina, who sincerely believes she needs to "know and show everything" about her guests, proceeds to divest the Majeskis of every single shred of dignity and privacy.
Far from being upset at the way they're being treated, the Majeskis, in love with fame and celebrityhood, spill their guts out to Delfina and the nation. The more they're humiliated, the happier they--and the public--become.
Everyone and everything is for sale in VALPARAISO, all in the name of entertainment. DeLillo has dissected the national psyche with the cool precision of a master surgeon.