Sunday, June 14, 2015

Review: Gordy Triumphs

October 2012. A superstorm strikes New York. Her name was Sandy. Serving as the backdrop of Sam Byron's invigorating and mesmerizing new play, Gordy Crashes explores the psychology of pain, grief and the loss of love.
After being displaced due to the lack of power, Gordy arrives at the Lower East Side apartment of his casual sex partner only to learn she is the roommate of his ex-girlfriend. Gordy Crashes follows the three-day journey of a young man who prepares to pick up the pieces of his shattered life while dealing with his past, head-on. Byron takes a very formidable time in Gordy’s life to help resolve an equally daunting experience of his past. While happenstance plays a strong part of Gordy Crashes, the abundance of parallels Byron employs are quite clever. While this play seemingly could have occurred at any time, the coloration between the damage of the storm and the damage of his self plays a strong role. For some, it may be too on point, but the authenticity of a new traumatic experience opening up old wounds is accurate. Placing Gordy in a vulnerable state allowed for a true character to be developed. Sandy is a wonderful metaphor for the disaster that is Gordy’s life. The other twist Byron uses is through the character of Job. Without giving too many spoilers away, Job’s mix of part Jiminy Cricket, part Tyler Durden gave Byron the ability to diverge from the monotony of a typical ex-lover drama. While the Job twist could have revealed itself a bit slower, it’s certainly a highlight of the piece. The only times Byron falters is when he strays from the plot and ventures into moments of severe preachiness. While this may be a tactic of Gordy’s to deflect from the pain, Byron goes a little too deep into political opinions that do not define the plot. The only other moment of departure is Mere’s jarring Sandy monologue. Byron has crafted such a stunning speech but it’s placement and purpose have little to do with Gordy’s journey. Had it been removed, the same result would have happened. While it harks back to the parallels of events, it appeared to be a bit too theatrical in the moment.
photo courtesy of Erik Carter
The trio of actors that make up Byron's play are spectacular to say the least. As Gordy, Dave Klasko goes on an extreme emotional journey throughout this play. Klasko has a stellar ability to be goofy yet endearing. With all of the intricate details that Byron gradually uncovers, Klasko makes this piece look easy. As ex-girlfriend and forced host Mere, Jody Flader brings passion to the stage. Flader has a wonderful quality that made her performance genuine. The tension Klasko and Flader had together was delightfully natural. Ruffin Prentiss as the stealthy Job was able to find the realism in the psychological character. Prentiss never took the easy route, giving a raw showing.
Director Sherri Eden Barber was blessed with a great script and outstanding cast, yet she was able to make it even better. Barber dug into the depths of the piece and discovered the nuances of relationships. Barber guided her actors through awkward silence and passion-filled arguments that seemed candid. Aiding Barber was scenic designer Kate Noll’s wonderful use of space. Noll turned the classic black box into a small Lower East Side apartment. The furniture was cohesive yet eclectic. The translucent-like grey walls were a great touch. Serena Wong’s lighting helped solidify them when necessary. The only sight line issues that occurred came in the moments on the fire escape. The music by Mark Van Hare, for the most part, was brilliant, especially the opening. Using the sounds of water to create an atmospheric composition was stunning. There was only one scenic transition that didn’t match the emotion of the concluding scene, making the music feel out of place.
With strong performances, a provocative script, and a overall powerful vision, Gordy Crashes is a winning production and a great kick off to Ricochet Collective's life.