Monday, October 13, 2008


I saw an interesting new play, Razorback, this weekend. The advertising describes it as a "pitch dark comedy about fathers and sins." "Pitch dark" is appropriate. It's like an entire season of The Sopranos squeezed into one play. I saw it with a friend, who once directed one of the actresses. It was in one of those hole-in-the-wall theaters, less than 100 seats, where you are up close and personal with the stage regardless of where you are sitting.

It takes place over a couple of days at a summer cottage in Maine. A nice, upper-middle-class family is struggling with some normal, but important issues. The father has cancer. Should the son, and only child, take a semester off from his sophomore year at Dartmouth to take care of him? Dad also has issues in the bedroom, which is a little frustrating for Mom.

But things get much more intriguing fairly quickly. Turns out the son is not the father's only child - he has another son, from a previous marriage. Dad is now a respectable businessman of some kind, but once upon a time he was from "the neighborhood," the kind where blood runs much, much thicker than water. Of coure, he's Italian. The son from the previous marriage shows up. He brings some baggage, notably his pregnant Puerto Rican girlfriend and his Ma, Dad's ex-wife. Son #1 and Wife #1 are both still living in "the neighborhood." I mentioned that blood runs thicker than water. What made me think of that is that, in this play, blood also runs rather freely. There's a sign on the entrance: "Gunfire will be heard during this performance."

The acting was almost uniformly good, although the son at Dartmouth seemed almost too nerdish. The production design was impressive, making the most of a small stage. The directing was solid. The script was well-structured, but I would describe it as more "dark" than "comedy." It could have used one or two more polishes, and a few more jokes. All in all, recommended, as quality theatre, but do not go alone.

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