by Blair Best
A one-night comedy explores the lives of post war veterans battling the effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Trapped inside the world of various cartoon characters, these therapy group patients are led to believe they are someone else in hopes of escaping their haunted past.
Within the cozy walls of Dixon Place, audience members enjoy beer and wine at the bar and relaxing in the lounge while drinking in the low lighting and abstract paintings hanging amidst the shadows. The audience gets a naturalistic feeling while following the stone stairwell descending to the underground performance space.
With not a bad seat in the house, this small non-profit theatre allows its audience to fully experience the actor’s work up close and personal. For one night only on October 30th, the whimsical performance of “Who Mourns For Bob The Goon” took its audience on an emotional and touching ride.
Director Lucia Bellini used the space well by not including many set pieces. The same eight chairs were used in each scene allowing the audience’s imagination to fill in the rest. With abrupt and long drawn out scene changes accompanied by recorded music and screen recordings, the seemingly amateur stage crew played an integral role in the performance.
This eccentric cast of eight very physical actors was filled with talent ranging from Meisner training to a Yale Drama graduate.
John Carhart played the character of Jonathan, the unqualified therapist. He took to the stage with ease and specificity. In the midst of bewitching his patients into believing his every word, Carhart was illustrating the beauty of simply listening and responding. His presence and connection to the rest of the cast was powerful and compelling.
Phillip Christian played the character of Jim, the military police veteran. The anger management patient was persistent about following the rules and respecting people of authority. He was pushed to his limits when two of the fellow therapy group members began dating outside of the class. He aggressively shuns them and repeatedly argued that they were “breaking the rules.”
Christian’s use of the text paired with his commanding athletic physique captivated the audience and gave his character a certain poise that stood out from the rest of the cast.
The two male lead characters Jonathan and Jim held the show together and gave it a sense of polish that would otherwise be lacking.
Elise Hudson played the female character of Langly. Lacking specificity and clarity in her actions, this drama therapy patient fell in love with Bob played by Michael Fewx. The tension in Hudson’s body and lack of proper voice training acted as an obvious contrast to Fewx’s articulate and seemingly effortless performance.
However, Hudson lead the play to an end with a heartwarming epilogue explaining the harsh reality that these war veterans are miserably alone and have no one to mourn for them. Offering a different side to her character, Hudson carries truth and clarity to the stage while leaving the audience with much to reflect on.
Blair Best is a Contributing Writer. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.