First You Take a Drink…

Derek Ahonen writes terrific first acts.  His newest work, The Qualification of Douglas Evans, follows its eponymous protagonist (Mr. Ahonen) for thirty years, from the child of an alcoholic father to the bright-eyed acting student fresh off the bus to New York City and finally to the bitter alcoholic himself, destroying relationships with a series of women while penning cringe-inducing plays like Wine Drunk in the Afternoon.  If this sounds self-indulgent—and of course it is—Mr. Ahonen is sharp enough to have Cara (Samantha Strelitz) tell Douglas, “You wrote a masturbatory play about your stupid relationship with some stupid girl and then you stupidly starred in it and were equally as bad at playing yourself as you were at writing about yourself.”  And self-indulgent is not always a problem; at its best, Douglas Evans recalls Arthur Miller’s unwieldy masterpiece After the Fall, which takes a wider aim by choosing Auschwitz as its central conceit but nonetheless employs flashback and narration to examine what happens when a smart but selfish man is unleashed on the women who love him. Continue reading “First You Take a Drink…”

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The Word “Rape” Dropped About Carelessly

Richard (Scott Haze) is yanked out of high school and sent to a violent prison when he’s accused of rape by a rich, pretty, popular classmate. Five years into his nine-year sentence, Richard is released after the girl recants. He returns home to attend a high school reunion, drawn by an invitation from a woman named “Beth M.”  He discovers that Beth (Ahna O’Reilly) is none other than his former accuser, living under a different name and hell-bent on talking through their turbulent past on terms laid about by her psychiatrist. Using his status as a victim as leverage, Richard imposes the his will on the women around him, sexually manipulating a teenage girl and forcing Beth into an outfit and an outing she clearly doesn’t want. His misbehavior is bad enough to make us wonder if justice is being served or if Richard is simply an infantile, misanthropic asshole, and uncertainly further complicated by the deeper pockets of emotional damage revealed over the course of his homecoming. Continue reading “The Word “Rape” Dropped About Carelessly”

The Island of Misfit Sociopaths

“My love to Tovah,” producer Jack Story (Mark Roberts) barks into the phone at the end of the conversation that opens Enter at Forest Lawn.  The “conversation” is more of a monologue, an extended tirade into a hands-free telephone about Jack’s “hateful cunt” of a wife, a “maniacal bush-pig” who has left his asshole “drippin’ black blood.”  The obligatory greeting to his lawyer’s wife, then, sets the tone for this brief, sharp, and hilarious play, one whose mantra is “if it ain’t on the screen, it never fucking happened.”  With the exception of a few niceties (“love to Tovah”), Enter at Forest Lawn is about what happens off-screen. Continue reading “The Island of Misfit Sociopaths”