Thursday, August 25, 2016

Review: A Jersey Godot

By Michael Block

Two slacker types sit on a bench waiting for a bus back to Jersey. As they wait, they engage in an intellectual conversation about finding the meaning of their own lives. And they also spot a man that may or may not be Danny DeVito. Written by Alexander Janosek Doyle, Is That Danny DeVito? (and other questions from west of the Hudson) is a modern riff on Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot packed with stoner intellect. Doyle has written a play that is witty and intelligent, poised to ask the tough questions we all ponder. There is great substance in Doyle's text but the overlying question he poses is why utilize the Godot model in favor of a completely original story? No matter what, Doyle has a promising voice. He has a great ability to allow the recurring bits to appear subtly. Even with waiting being the name of the game, Is That Danny DeVito? was a ton of fun. That being said, it ironically ran ten to fifteen minutes too long. Perhaps even an act too long. While trying to mirror Beckett's arc, Doyle implemented the two acts that aren’t entirely warranted. Doyle easily justified his story to complete when Act I closes. There is one plot hole that he might want to clean up. The reason for Dusty and Geoff missing the bus in Act I needs finessing as it is currently feels too forced. There is little justification for Dusty to continue his scuffle with Ass-Biter. When Geoff calls for him, his eagerness to get home should immediately be recalled in his brain. Unfortunately that's not the case.
Amanda Levie's direction of Doyle's play was simple. The focus was on the words and the humor rather than the intellect. It allowed the depth of Doyle's text to speak for itself. Even with some lighting limitations, Levie tried to keep her company contained.
Like Godot, the character focus is on the main duo. Julian Blake Gordon and Finn Kilgore were a good balance for one another. Kilgore was subdued as Geoff. He had a slacker sage-ness to him that helped his jokes dribble out. Gordon as Dusty was a bit more high-strung. He kept his energy up as the situation unfolded around him. Natasha Edwards and Carlo Fiorletta made the best of their bit parts as Ghoul and Ass-Biter respectively.
Is That Danny DeVito? (and other questions from west of the Hudson) is more than just another Waiting For Godot adaptation. Alexander Janosek Doyle has written something for a modern audience to ponder.