Photo by Don Kellogg

Saturday, December 29, 2012


The proverbial gun is not so proverbial in this 90-minute stinger over at the Cort Theater.  The play opens at the literal and figurative end - loaded gun included.   We're instantly transported back in time and space as we revisit how we got here and what brought us to this exact moment.

Performances were hauntingly solid.  The pace is deliberate.  The intensity is ever-present.  Steve (Paul Rudd) and Sara (Kate Arrington) have relocated to Florida from Minnesota on a semi-religious, semi-financial journey to built a new faith-based motel chain (think - "Where would Jesus Stay?").  Their neighbor, Sam, (Michael Shannon) has experienced a tragic accident and loss.  Interloper and exterminator for the apartment building, Karl, (Ed Asner) brings both comic relief as well as some deeply painful emotion to the story.

The stew, as you already know, is not going to work out very well for all involved.  What playwright Craig Wright intends to impart in this powerhouse of a play are the questions of God, grace, forgiveness, and purpose, what a messy life we lead, and how one person's redemption and happiness may ultimately be at the expense of another.

Adding to the chilling intensity of the deceptively simple "trashy Florida rattan" furniture was Beowulf Boritt's barely noticeable rotation of the stage floor and entire set itself - too slow to see it actively moving (think, watching a plant grow), but when focused on a particular scene dialogue you blink and realize that everyone ends up in entirely different orientation.  Add to that, Darron L West's incessant whine of tropical insects and biting scene change static buzz, you are never given the opportunity to forget that nothing good lies ahead.

If you're uncomfortable around guns, especially given the recent shootings in CT, you may think twice before attending this particular show.  In any other Broadway season it would just be a footnote.  Many leaving the theater felt it was an uncomfortably poignant and painful reminder of the potential and inevitable carnage guns can bring.