Monday, July 11, 2011

THE CRUMPLE ZONE • Citilites Theatre

Ah, the holidays.  Supposedly a time of mirth and merriment for families and friends right?  Well, not always.  If there's one thing this play about infidelity, love and friendship demonstrates, it's that the holiday season can be just as unfulfilling for gays as it can be for straight folks.  Sounds like an engaging play though, right?  Well, not really.

Set in a small apartment in Staten Island, our cast of characters includes Terry (Keith Thompson), the incredibly lonely and neurotic unemployed actor who has a tremendous crush on Buck (Troy Turnipseed). But Buck is the lover of Alex (Seth Ward Pyatt), Terry's roommate.  He's working as a Santa Claus at the Staten Island Mall.  Then there's Matt (Anotnio Rodriguez), Alex's long-term boyfriend who is out on the road touring with a musical adaptation of "Salem's Lot".  There's also Roger (Devin Przygoda) who is picked up by Terry on the Staten Island ferry.

As the play opens, Buck and Terry are stringing popcorn for the Christmas tree, waiting for Alex to come home and listening to lovelorn messages on the answering machine from Matt to Alex.  Terry is going on and on about his disgust with the happy ending of "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas" when Alex enters with stories of being peed on by obnoxious children.  Buck  spends much of his time trying to convince Alex that he should move in with him, while Terry spends most of his time with long diatribes bemoaning the fact that he is alone.  Naturally, Matt unexpectedly shows up at the end of the first act.

In the second act Terry and Buck try to convince Matt that they are together, but Matt knows better.  What follows is drunkenness and a little truth-telling.  Alex, after telling Matt that it's over, leaves to be with Buck, and Terry is left to try to console Matt with a story about crash test dummies.  Yes, here's where the title comes in.

Devin Przygoda (Roger), Troy Turnipseed (Buck)
and Keith Thompson (Terry).
Photo credit: Juan Castillo
Written by Buddy Thomas and directed by Marsha Hollander Parker, I had a couple of problems with this one.  First, it was just kind of boring -- your basic love triangle with some gay guys thrown in.  Secondly, the pacing is a little off.  The character of Terry seems like the one that should have garnered our sympathy and laughs, and he does get most of the best lines, but many don't quite land.  Although Keith Thompson's Terry is full of skittish energy and has some funny moments (particularly one scene where he tries to seduce Buck with a lip-synced version of "Nevertheless, I Love You"), he pitches the majority of his lines at the same rhythm and tone, so when the jokes do come, they're hard to differentiate from the delivery of anything else.  It was also hard for me to feel anything for any of the characters, really -- they were all pretty underwritten.  Alex and Matt are a major part of this love triangle, but we never learn much about Matt, and I never really got the sense that Alex was torn between Buck, his new lover, and his boyfriend, so if he doesn't care, why should I?  I also felt like I could "see" most everyone acting.  Not good.  Troy Turnipseed came off as the most realistic for me.  On the technical side, the set by GP Hunsaker, lighting by Steven J. Miller, costumes by Alexandra Scibetta Quigley and sound by Seth Ward Pyatt and Heather Tucker all worked well.

Maybe the performances will come together later on in the run, but still, this rather generic play lacks what it needs to make it truly memorable.  


THE CRUMPLE ZONE

Written by Buddy Thomas
Directed by Marsha Hollander Parker 
Gaslight Theater, 358 North Boyle Ave.
through July 24 | tickets: $15 - $20
Performances Thursday to Saturday at 8pm, Sundays at 7pm

Cast:
Keith Thompson (Terry), Troy Turnipseed (Buck), Seth Ward Pyatt (Alex), Devin Przygoda (Roger) and Anotnio Rodriguez (Matt).

Creative:
Costume design by Alexandra Scibetta Quigley; scenic design by GP Hunsaker; lighting design by Steven J. Miller; sound design by Seth Ward Pyatt & Heather Tucker; choreography by Janet Strzelec; stage manager, Lisa Beke. 

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