Sunday, September 7, 2008

Heroes And Villains

I never saw A Steady Rain. The first go around at Chicago Dramatists, it was one of those phenomena that I was aware of, but just never quite got around to seeing, and then by the time it had exploded enough for the Royal George run, I let the price stop me from checking out a two-hander police story, not something I tend to get terribly excited for, much less for fifty bucks.

After seeing Peter DeFaria in Collaboraction's Heroes and Villains, I've resumed kicking myself for that decision. This man is a treasure; the way he can work a verbal delay, shift tonality and intention mid-word, or turn something as simple as knocking on a bar into a years-old habit is really something to behold. Even more impressive is the fact that he is doing so with Daniel Janoff's Encyclopedia Brown a la the Lifetime Channel script.

The rest of the cast do a commendable job considering how much energy they have to expend to create characters so false as to be natural in this world; but they haven't a chance once DeFaria steps onstage and does just the opposite: creates a character so unfailingly natural that we have no choice but to believe in the world he's living. Janoff packs the script, from front to back, with a quarter ton of shaded backstory exposition and then fills in the rest with a comic book civilian love story -- a Lois Lane/Jimmy Olsen hook-up, perhaps -- that stands to serve as the second and final dimension for these characters. But whether he's bringing out the beauty in others (his own personal 'superpower') or wooing Lois Lane, DeFaria's just another guy, just like us but a little bit more like we wish we were. And that's a big feat with a script that can't find the -human in superhuman.



Ed said...

Paul, it seems like you're seeing everything I see, just a day or two later. Stop stalking me, dammit!

Yeah, Heroes and Villains had a terminal case of 'this playwright usually writes for TV and/or film' disease. Many different locations and short vignettes plus a highly realistic set equals glacial scene changes. Long scene changes where nothing is happening makes me die inside. Fess up, Daniel Janoff...was this a screenplay that got shot down?

I enjoyed (most of) the actors, but I was really feeling for them- that's the danger of agreeing to do a world premiere script; sometimes *that's* what you end up stuck with, and half the time you don't get to read the entire script until the first readthrough.

Poor Wendi Weber. Having to justify the humorless shrew of a character she's been written. Trying desperately (but failing) to invent some chemistry between herself and the also-skilled-despite-being-stuck-in-this-play Defaria. Poor Danny Goldring. From the marketing, posters, and half the press photos, anyone would think that the play was actually about *his* character. Oops, guess not. Thank God I saw a matinee. For all that I'm 27 if it was an evening show I might have nodded off.

Collaboraction, why do you taunt me so? Jenny Chow was one of the awesomest things I saw last year. You raise my hopes with that, and then offer me this?!

Sorry, it was a long hard bitch of a day at my day job today. It probabably wasn't as bad as all that, but my claws are out at present.

Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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