Archive for the ‘Review’ Category

A Life in Five Acts

December 28th, 2015 No comments

Bob: A Life in Five Acts

Postcard design by Bill Lynn

Postcard design by Bill Lynn

Caught BOB: A life in five acts at convergence on 12/11.

I had the chance to read/hear/participate in this script at my good friend Peter Roth’s house on Monday, September 24, 2012. Man, that’s quite a ways back. So, my interest in seeing the play at convergence was heightened, and I was not disappointed.

As Geoffrey Hoffman, director, noted in the program:

“Bob is an everyman and a representative of The American Dream… He is born with nothing and becomes a passionate adventurer—part myth, part reality, and completely legendary.”

Bob is born in the bathroom of a White Castle, so things can only get better right? He wanders the American landscape, exposing the bankrupt culture that we all have come to know and, eh em, love. From museums to rest stops to casinos and un-earned statues; from waif to sexy man to affluent someone-or-other to side-show barker—- Peter Sinn Nachtrieb makes a fillet of the prototypical American soul. Bob is funny, poignant, and sometimes frightening as we stare down the black rabbit hole that is our American existence.

Bob uses one main character and a chorus: a technique in plays that has come around recently from its old Greek days and which remains a highly versatile tool for play constructing and random character deployment. Doug Kusak is great as Bob and is always fun to see at convergence. I was equally happy to see Robert Hawkes and Katie Nabors, who always shines when she’s on stage: from Poor Little Lulu to The Underpants to certain crazy workshops inspired by Conni’s Avant Garde Restaurant with one Jeffrey Frace.

Geoff did a great job of keeping the pace up, the story moving, and discovering innovative uses for the chorus when they were only voices out of the dark… Cool use of multimedia with location projections, as well.

The Motherfucker with the Hat

September 30th, 2012 No comments

Saw Dobama’s production of Stephen Adly Guirgis‘ play on Friday night, then hit La Cave Du Vin for some beers afterward. On a few occasions during the play I found myself looking forward to the beers, but for the most part it was a good play. I thought the acting was great and Boduszek’s directing was solid, though I don’t know if some of the “longer” parts that made me wish for beer were due to pacing or if they just needed cut down by Guirgis.

The Motherfucker with the Hat is a play about love and trust, and ultimately how love is stronger than a trust that gets violated. This is unfortunate for the main character, Jackie (Jeremy Kendall), who has devoted his whole life to loving Veronica (Anjanette Hall), a woman whose drug addled brain doesn’t seem worth the dedication that Jackie is displaying. Jackie is no saint, having his own addiction problems, and having done 24 months for selling; but at least Jackie is on the wagon and trying to get straight. Helping him cope with the newfound straightness and his past addiction problems is his Sponsor and friend Ralph D (Charles Kartali) as well as Jackie’s long mistreated cousin Julio (Jimmie D. Woody). I say Veronica “isn’t worth the dedication” because right off the bat Jackie comes home, excited, having finally found work, wanting to celebrate, only to stare at a strange hat on the bedroom table. Jackie knows it’s not his hat, and wants Veronica to tell him whose hat it is, hence the title of the play. She won’t, and launches into a tirade about how Jackie won’t trust her. Probably a good choice on Jackie’s part when the inevitable and predictable revelation is made that Jackie’s sponsor, Ralph D, is the offending Motherfucker. How it is that Jackie can smell the Aqua Velva and dick on the bed and not smell the Aqua Velva on his sponsor I will leave you to ponder, but the betrayal comes as a surprise to Jackie.

The play moves in a predictable structure of pairing off–Jackie and Veronica, Jackie and Ralph D, Jackie and Julio, Jackie and Ralph and Julio, Jackie and Veronica, Ralph and Veronica, etc., you get the point. At each interview we are taken deeper into the relationships between each pairing and into the past of each character. Guirgis does a great job with these pairing offs and tells stories and develops characters in a truly engaging way–such that I was pulled in and loved the stories that I heard. However, there were also times when Guirgis got off on tangents of philosophizing that were just too damn long. In particular is the mandatory scene where Jackie confronts Ralph D. about what he has done. There is the necessary physical altercation, during which Ralph D. unbelievably beats down a more physically impressive Jackie; and then the two “discuss” the matter in a more “mature” manner. Undoubtedly the two would fight, especially after the atrocious things that Ralph D. says to Jackie about Veronica (and what he did to her). It is less likely that Jackie would stick around for the ten or fifteen minutes (it seemed to me) that he did to hear Ralph D.’s defense of himself. I can understand the need on Jackie’s part to know why Ralph did what he did. I can understand that Ralph is a no-good amoral scumbag who takes advantage of situations to his own benefit. But the seemingly interminable cyclical nature of the scene was not necessary: Ralph castigates Jackie for ever getting arrested–after all, it was Jackie’s fault that he was sent to jail and left his woman alone–not Ralph’s fault for being a depraved ass-wad. Fine, I get it, but to let Ralph say it three, four times, as he justifies himself in some long-winded psycho-babbled philosophizing was too much. Not that I don’t believe that there are people like that: there are. And not that they don’t drone on and on: they do. But on stage it was too goddam long. And that wasn’t the only section that was long, and strangely so, given the tightness and the pop of other parts of the piece. It’s almost like some self-important workshop director got his hands on this and said “we really need a lot more here from Ralph so he can explain himself”. No, you don’t. You didn’t.

Anyway, there are some truly sizzling moments and Guirgis, to steal from Jean Shepherd, works in “profanity the way other artists might work in oils or clay”. Ultimately, Guirgis wins by painting a painful portrait of people who have betrayed themselves and each other and have tried their best to kill any hope or chance of love they have. Jackie’s love for Veronica is undoubtedly true, and that makes the outcome of the play all them more heartrending, but Guirgis holds no punches.

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