Through March 6
Review by Robert Liebowitz
Solid cast–for the most part, a refreshing yes. Stage-worthy play–again, for the most part, yes, provided by a playwright of strong talent. Technical design and execution–not the best, but capable, practical, and well suited for the production at hand. Dramaturg–errr, who? Dramaturg. Hmmmm…what’s that? Well, a general description would be a person skilled in knowing what will and what will not work on stage.The lack of Dramaturgy makes this play well-meaning but mixed.
“The play is the thing, etc…”, and here this tenet of the theater applies. Mr. Keuter has many profound, insightful things he wishes to say, and he knows basically how he wants to say it. The problem is that, at last count, there were three plays performing within one, and one suspects a fourth play broke out after the lights went black and the audience was filing out of the theater. There was simply too many competing, distracting ideas constantly butting into each other, which prevented the play from being a solitary, singular vision of work.
Fortunately for the playwright, the play he set out to write–some silly, inane contrivance concerning two very silly and unlikable 20-somethings–passed and faded from view after about 20 minutes. Thankfully, Mr. Keuter had much more up his sleeve.
The play takes place in some seedy bar near a bridge–(Red Hook, Brooklyn, perhaps? An obvious choice, something the directors left purposely vague, for reasons known only to them). Within minutes we are presented with what appears to be The Cliched Parade of Idiots–Drunk Bartender, Convict Brother, Convict Brother’s left-behind wife, The Girl Left Behind, and The Love Story, with The Gym Rat and The BagLady Greek Chorus thrown into the mix. Yet the play never delved into this tired territory, or into that place called I’ve Seen This Play Before. Well done.
Suddenly and without warning, the children thankfully went to ‘theater sleepland’, and the adults took over. Their stories–filled with harbored passions, monstrous jealousies, cowardice, and of course one Big Lie after another–was compelling listening and viewing throughout the 1 hour 40 minute running time. Marinated over this were wonderful insights into the human condition, with much to laugh at and some to ponder. All of it in natural, everyday conversational tones, with that heightened theatrical reality. A tip of the hat to you, Mr. Keuter.
The cast lived up to their end of the bargain, led by the superb Catherine Curtin as the wistful barfly Candy, and her comrade-in-arm Mary Jo Mecca as the long suffering neglected Lynn. The men were generally as strong, led by James Judy as the loutish but broken hearted and love sick Sal.
To The Active Theater–you have the writing, the acting, the technical…next time, though, one play, one story, told through the eyes of one director. These simple precepts, these basic blocks of theater building, would’ve easily have made ‘Bridgeboy’ a memorable production instead of a capable competent one.