Photo by Don Kellogg

Tuesday, December 2, 2014


There's a new play on at Playwrights Horizons and it has a little bit of sexy-star-sizzle.  The always adorable and boyishly handsome T.R. Knight  (Eddie) takes the helm of Samuel D. Hunter's Pocatello along with the always divine Brenda Whele (Doris).

Unfortunately, this is not one of Mr. Hunter's best thought out plays. Yes, the idea is laudable - a man is lost in his very own hometown and searching for himself, his place, and his sense of family in an ever evolving landscape of unemployment, strip malls, fast food, and ATMs.  I get it.  I actually like the idea.  Mr. Hunter has appropriately captured the anger, character, and lost dreams of middle America in his dialogue.  For this I applaud him.

However, Mr. Hunter seems to have peppered the cast with characters that are all too interesting to not have developed.   Cameron Scoggins (Max) and Elvy Yost (Isabelle) both brilliantly acted, but their characters failed to advance the story.  Jonathan Hogan (Cole) is an older actor who just hit it out of the park with his onset of Alzheimer's affliction, but was this just for sympathy?  Leah Karpel nailed her performance of the angry young vegetarian-i hate my parents-nobody gets me routine, but do we really need one of these in every play?  Danny Wolohan (Troy) and his unhappy wife, Jennifer Dickey (Tammy) had the requisite bad marriage involving alcoholism, depression and the aforementioned angry daughter.  Cliche?  And what specifically was so emotionally visceral about that cheese-wiz casserole that Brett Hutchison (Nick) almost threw up on stage?  It just seemed to me that Mr. Hunter poured all the Lifetime movie characteristics into this play about middle America - the flyover states- middle of nowhere America.  All these characters distracted from the main character and his sense of loneliness and isolation from family.

The deepest sadness of the plot was therefore under-represented - -why exactly was Eddie so hell bent on keeping these mis-fit toys together?  We are not sufficiently introduced to his motivations, only his vague actions.  This becomes frustrating as you are constantly trying to figure out "why".  It is only at the very end that you learn a very tragic and sad fact about his mother, her motivations, and feelings about her gay son (yes, he threw this in for effect too).

You end up leaving the theatre with a deep sadness about family failings.  Perhaps Mr. Hunter succeeded in making us sad, but how or why we got there is at times a mystery - much like the pasta of the week on the menu.