Saturday, August 20, 2016

Review: The Nightmare Bachelor Party

by Michael Block

If the title scares you and you get easily offended, then stay away. Stay far, far away. If you can handle it, then Sam Gooley's Steve Got Raped, presented by The New Collectives, is an entertaining dark comedy. It's the night of Steve's bachelor party. Steve and Katie are about to be married. And have a baby. The morning after the bachelor party, Steve realizes that perhaps the events of the night led him to be raped by the hired stripper. So what does Steve do? And who will believe him? Steve Got Raped is an edgy piece that is equal parts funny and provocative. The story captures a discussion on rape from a different perspective, through the eyes of gender. The "role reversal" creates a challenging commentary on what it means to believe someone. This ideas in this play could never be done as a comedy should it have been a woman. And that's fascinating in itself. Gooley's dialogue is sharp and quick. The characters he creates are basic archetypes, just with a little more depth. It's a satisfying story. Except for the ending. Whether it was the timeline of events or the facts we learn, the final scene between Steve and Derrick didn't seem to wrap up this story best. There are consequences for every action but the fact that two weeks have gone by and Steve has virtually lost everything and everyone made the other people in his life seem more villainous than they are.
photo by Aaron Kisner
Steve Got Raped exemplified the beauty of a connected ensemble. James E. Smith as Steve was a brilliant lead. Smith exudes charm. And in a play about being believed, Smith had immense conviction. As foul-mouthed Katie, Sarah Moore was terrific. Her growth from goofy girl to serious siren, Moore's journey was genuine. If ever there was a scene-stealer, it's. Dan Morrison. He is a strong comedic sidekick who knows when to take the stage or fade to the back. Though only present for one scene, Mara Gannon as stripper Ariel gave all the tools to question the actions of the night. Though the bleed of the various worlds was a bit of a factor in the staging, director Melissa Firlit kept this play moving. With limited lighting looks to start, Elaine Wong still seemed to find variety on the vast stage.
Steve Got Raped is not for everyone. If you're willing to be challenged, it's worth a visit.