“Oksana & Mel on the Web”
A drama review
“Oksana & Mel on the Web” was the runaway smash hit of summer 2010’s theatrical season. This audio improvisational playlet went viral on the Web, and spawned parodies, tributes and mashups. It attracted enormous attention, and rightly so, for it is solid entertainment by professional performers.
Mel Gibson threw himself into his role as Psycho Abuser. Here we see the triumph of method acting. He growls, he pants, he spews foul invective, he hurls insults and death threats, he howls and roars like a soul in Hell. That he did this off script, entirely inprov, shows his talent - but also long years of practice. This show was the climactic performance of a seasoned thespian. Nothing afterwards will measure up, in sheer dramatic content. Mel Gibson has thus officially Jumped The Shark.
Whereas this was Oksana Grigorieva’s big break. She was the co-star in this playlet, but also its producer and director. Her technical skill is remarkable, in that she assembled a studio-quality audio recording system in what must have been a great hurry. Her performance is at first muted, but later she brought spirit and sass to her role as Desperate Manipulator. Consider these lines:
Mel: You know what -
Oksana: You know what -
Mel: - you ****** deserved it!
Oksana: - you gonna answer, one day, boy, you gonna answer.
Mel: What, what? Are you threatening me?
Oksana: Nothing, nothing... I am not the one to threaten.
Mel: I’m threaten, I’ll put you in a ******* rose garden, you ****. You understand that? Because I’m capable of it.
Now, that’s entertainment! Out of his own mouth he betrays himself! But what makes this a comedy rather than a tragedy is a simple fact, known to one of the characters but not the other; namely, our virtual presence. Mel thought that only two were privy to his threats; but there was a spy listening in; Oksana’s friend, the Web. We ourselves, the audience, were invisibly there; and so we are complicit in Oksana’s trap and Mel’s humiliation.
In this playlet, Renaissance revenge theater meets the postmodern Web. The mistress, abused by the duke, arranges for another fiery confrontation, but this time with the King hiding behind a curtain. Thus the duke is exposed and humiliated, and the mistress’s sullied honor is avenged. Beware the wrath of a woman abused!
The playlet leaves some questions unresolved. What was the mysterious incident that ‘almost killed us’? Is Mel merely chemically unbalanced, or does he have deeper troubles? And who is Oksana, really? I look forward to more audio releases from this talented director.
Wait, there’s more!