Backstage West Logo


August 21, 2002
Reviewed By Wenzel Jones

Not to slight the performer, but how many times do you leave a one-man show humming the lights and set? The piece takes place over the course of one very snowy evening in Manhattan, and Joel Daavid captures the grittiness of the urban milieu (set) as well as the wonder and enchantment of a long, city-stopping snowfall (lights). The sound contributions of composer Ken Rich are so richly realized that the aural atmosphere is every bit as theatrically magical. The drug-enhanced portions of the show are especially effective.

This is not to imply that the technical aspects overwhelm the performer. Alex Lyras, who co-wrote the script with director Robert McCaskill, is not the sort of actor to play second fiddle to some nice flats and effective illumination.

Lyras portrays five characters who, on the same night, lead separate lives that just happen to intersect. Each is marvelously distinct, yet none is so far out of the performer's range that the audience becomes aware that a particular character is there as a big, challenging, show-offy stretch.

Thus, to cover both ends of the spectrum, both Manny, the lawyer with the atrophied sense of ethics, and Isaac, the appealingly boneheaded young man who can't talk to his girlfriend on the phone for more than five minutes without saying something incredibly stupid, are equally real despite that they have nothing in common but a similar build.

McCaskill also blocks each distinctively: Manny barely moves as he lets his appalling tale unreel, while Isaac is a brilliant piece of physical comedy as he keeps changing clothes, an act that inevitably involves the phone cord ending up where it shouldn't.

Other characters involved are a fireman trying to get through to an uncommunicative roommate, a plumber who thinks he has the blackjack tables in Atlantic City beat, and a philosophical sort who, at one point, leads you down the merry pathway of a psilocybin trip in the woods.

The passage from character to character is achieved by a somewhat lengthy onstage change of costume executed in the shadows, an action that gives the transitions a mild erotic charge that keeps interest from flagging. The uncredited costumes, it should be mentioned, are as concise as the show's other aspects.

Coming in at just over an hour, it's a compact production that leaves a large impression.
(back to the top)