Monday, March 15, 2010

A Behanding In Spokane (The SOB Review)

A Behanding In Spokane (The SOB Review) – Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre, New York City, New York

** (out of ****)

What was Martin McDonagh thinking?

No. Seriously.

What could have possessed this acclaimed playwright/screenwriter I admire so much for such masterful works as The Pillowman, The Cripple Of Inishmaan and "In Bruges" to write a play as vile and dull-edged as A Behanding In Spokane?

It's one thing to construct an offbeat comedy about a bigot in search of his hand that's been missing for decades, especially if you're fortunate enough to have the eternally creepy Christopher Walken portraying him. Sure it's Walken playing a racist version of all the other eerie roles we've seen him do, but at least he's reliable.

However, it's quite another for an Irish playwright to have his characters incessantly and gratuitously spewing the n-word. I couldn't help but think, “Spokane, we have a problem.” Are there some unresolved racial issues McDonagh must resolve? He may very well wish to enroll in joint therapy with David Mamet so they may resolve them together.

Aside from Walken, there are few other saving graces. Scott Pask's set design of a rundown hotel is appropriately evocative and Brian MacDevitt's lighting design lends to the play's macabre vibe. And Sam Rockwell adds his own slightly off-kiltered performance as Mervyn, the hotel's twisted front desk receptionist.

But with few real laughs and little else to enjoy, I was left sitting on my hands. Fortunately, they're still fully intact.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

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