The New York Times Review: Things To Ruin


Cynicism, Too, Needs a Laureate to Give It Some Lyrical Moments | The New York Times

In “Guide to Success,” a cuttingly cynical number from “Things to Ruin,” a revue of the songs by the emerging young theater composer Joe Iconis, a smug millionaire offers advice to youthful go-getters preparing to lunge down the road to riches: “Never say what you really feel/ Why make a choice when it’s safe to just make a deal.” This callous know-it-all concludes his seminar on upward mobility with a nihilistic shrug: “And eventually every relationship ends/So throw out your baby and murder your friends.”

The song, performed by Mr. Iconis, who also played keyboard while surrounded by an extended family of singing actors and a rock quartet on the stage of the Zipper Factory on Friday, captures a gloating anything-for-a-buck ethos that resonates with our current financial mess. Like almost everything in the show, the anger is counterbalanced by humor and by the exuberance of the cast and the vitality of music that kicks 1960’s-style pop tunefulness with hard post-punk beats.

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