PARASITE DRAG by Mark Roberts (West Coast Premiere) – Los Angeles Theater Review

by Harvey Perr on August 31, 2010

in Theater-Los Angeles

Post image for PARASITE DRAG by Mark Roberts (West Coast Premiere) – Los Angeles Theater Review

A MIXED DRAG

If Parasite Drag were a product of Playwriting 101, its author, Mark Roberts, would be the brightest kid in the class. He has an ear for dialogue, a sure way of shaping a scene, and beautifully subtle insights into women, a rare enough gift these days, especially in a male playwright.  And he is lucky enough to have two extraordinarily fine actors – Mim Drew and Agatha Nowicki – who raise the first scene of the second act to the level of art. Unfortunately, it is the men – two brothers, one a pastor, the other a roustabout, reunited by the imminent death of their sister – who are at the center of his play, and the actors playing these roles are not quite in the same league. And, as hard as  director David Fofi tries to keep sustained excitement throughout the evening, Roberts jams too much into the play – incest, drug addiction, suicide, cunnilingus – and rather than explore each subject that arises, he is content to shock us with each new revelation. And, from the beginning, there is talk of a tornado watch, and, like Chekhov’s gun, we know it’s coming and, when it does – just as the brothers explode with their own private tornado – the moment is not only anti-climactic, it is hopelessly chaotic. A coda – showing how one was before becoming what one is – is free of sentimentality, but not very effective, either. The real problem, however, is that Harold Pinter wrote The Homecoming almost half a century ago and had the ultimate word on dysfunctional families. The realism Roberts offers is no substitute for the darker truth which lies below the surface.

harveyperr @ stageandcinema.com

photo by Joel Daavid

scheduled to close September 18 at time of publication
for tickets, visit http://www.elephanttheatrecompany.com/

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