Sunday, March 29, 2009
REVIEW - THE GREAT ESCAPE: A PLAY THAT ENDS AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE
(Continued from Games People Play Pt. 4: Intro to Acting)
Gall in the Family
Review: THE GREAT ESCAPE: A PLAY THAT ENDS AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE
By Theodore Fletcher
In Tod Abrams' claustrophobic new play THE GREAT ESCAPE: A PLAY THAT ENDS AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE, the author expects the audience to spend hours with him observing the excruciating holiday antics of a 'typical' American family whose bizarre idea of Christmas cheer is to shamelessly strip innocent children of their hard-earned Christmas presents while staging interminable dramatic readings of banal Hallmark greeting cards. Like the author himself, who in the leading role as a repulsive, Hollywood phony is forced to fake a grand Mal seizure to escape his narcissistic family, we can only hope that God renders us as comatose as our lead actor for having to spend even a nanosecond observing such ghastly source material.
Clumsily written and even more appallingly acted, THE GREAT ESCAPE: A PLAY THAT ENDS AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE, is inexplicably set at Christmas time in a San Diego tract house, light years from civilization (or a decent freeway) and stars a family of miscreants whose propensity for upstaging, scenery chewing, and 'look-at-me' theatrics left this reviewer hoping that a sudden brush fire might sweep in and mercifully cause our 'actors' to perish from a fatal case of smoke inhalation.
The wooden acting and cloying stage presence of the 'actors' is often overshadowed by the hideous set, which consists mainly of a creepy 70's era living room completely furnished in Mexican restaurant cast-offs, shag carpeting and an inordinate number of crocheted doilies. Seated close to the cruel little area that served as a type of 'stage,' this reviewer was nearly overcome by the stench of cheap tequila, tortilla chips and the ash from hundreds of Acapulco Gold joints carelessly ground into the cheap nylon pile.
While we might choose to forgive Abrams for the indifferent staging and lackluster direction of THE GREAT ESCAPE: A PLAY THAT ENDS AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE, we should not be obligated to excuse the author for his inability to offer us a cohesive plot, involving characters or at least a decent ending - which in this case has Abrams suffering the baddest of bad Karma when after faking an Epileptic fit to escape his insufferable family, finds himself alone and moribund, trapped like a rat in holiday traffic and unable to escape his own personal purgatory: San Diego.
Abrams' dismal play can best be summed up by the great Oscar Wilde who once wrote "The world is a stage but the play is badly cast."