Christopher Borg and Joey Rizzolo in Locker 4173b
(© Anton Nickel)
Christopher Borg and Joey Rizzolo in Locker 4173b
(© Anton Nickel)
It's often been said that one man's junk is another man's treasure. For Christopher Borg and Joey Rizzolo, it's an archeological find. In their delightful yet discomfiting new show, Locker 4173b, presented by the New York Neo-Futurists at The Monkey, the writer-performers act as urban explorers as they describe their investigation into the contents of two storage lockers that they bought at public auction in the Bronx.

They approach their project with a Vaudevillian sense of showmanship, speaking with exaggerated formalness and adherence to "scientific" method while possessing terrific comic timing and a sense of linguistic playfulness. As they examine the artifacts of their study -- all neatly identified and catalogued -- they evidence a boyish excitement that sweeps the audience along in their wake.

From the very beginning, the performers question the ethics of what they're doing -- and as the show progresses, feelings of unease are apt to be felt by many audience members, as well. The details unearthed about the lives of the former owners of the contents of the storage lockers are quite intimate, and Borg and Rizzolo's speculation on the meanings of certain objects and documents can seem like a gross invasion of privacy.

Their own identifications as two white men -- one gay, one straight -- of a certain class status are also interrogated, and they each share snippets of their personal lives. We hear a little about Rizzolo's autistic child, and how Borg was adopted, and these scant biographical details are enough to demonstrate how this data informs the way the pair interprets the materials at hand.

It very quickly becomes apparent that the prior owners of both storage lockers are racial minorities, and this fact is one of the thorniest and least examined aspects of the piece. The contents in the first locker once belonged to a homeless woman named India while the second locker -- the primary object of the duo's analysis, which gives the show it's title -- contains items belonging to a Latino family.

Perhaps as a way of acknowledging their own limitations, they and director Justin Tolley bring in a third performer -- Yeauxlanda Kay, a charismatic woman of color -- to literally speak for India, interpreting the words from the woman's diary as if reading at a poetry slam. There's even some background jazz music piped in for these sequences. Kay is quite funny, but she's also careful not to go too far and ridicule the person whose words she's speaking; instead, India comes across as a fiercely proud woman with a clear vision of what she wants.

Ultimately, Locker 4173b proves to be a fascinating probe into the hidden meanings behind everyday items that seem more apt to be discarded than preserved. But such things do tell a story -- or perhaps more accurately, in Borg and Rizzolo's capable hands, they lend themselves to a compelling theatrical narrative.