Saturday, May 05, 2007

The Good Thief

Conor McPherson's The Good Thief is problematic to stage as a play: the one-man show is a passive narrative that works better as a short story, actionless as it is. Tom Wojtunik's direction confuses the work even further by adding two musicians to the cast who, stranded against the wall of the already overwhelming Access Theater space, are a constant reminder of the narration. We aren't ever made a part of McPherson's world, and Kit Wannen's interpretation of the role of this Irish street tough is so dispassionate that there's no charisma compelling us to even listen. Worse still, there doesn't seem to be any real reason for Wannen to tell this story; motivation, as in the story itself, seems but an afterthought. The play is built on understatements (which elicit laughs from only the most desperate of audiences); otherwise, it is a matter-of-fact accounting of past events, few of which are interesting. Toward the end of the play, Wannen finds an emotional hook -- the reckoning -- and at last, we can see where this whole production has been leading. "I felt as though my soul was being bleached," he says at one point (the language itself is always appealing), but it's unfortunate that McPherson's story takes an hour to get the point at which we care.


Anonymous said...

Watch the typos, chief. If you quote a writer as good as McPherson, at least see it through and get the quote right. Great review though. Couldn't agree more.

Aaron Riccio said...

Thanks for the heads-up; I've fixed the typo. If anybody has a more accurate version of that line (it's hard to enjoy a play while taking exact notes), I'd appreciate it!

Eric Wallace said...

While Mr. Riccio's opinions of the production are valid in their own right (and who would question anyone writing for a blogging race?), I must say I was surprised by his description of the audiences as 'desperate.' Having seen this show, and having found real humor in it (among other positive things not mentioned here), I'm a little taken aback. I've grown accustomed to reading critics who can comfortably lob insults at actors/directors/and the like - but I can't remember having ever been insulted myself. It's not a pleasant experience. Thank you, Mr. Riccio, for the novelty, and for being a true pioneer.

(And yes, that, too, is an understatement, though of a very different kind.)

Aaron Riccio said...

The thought is more that the tenor of the show has such little substance that the audience (of which I was a part, so if I insult anybody, it is myself first and foremost), is desperate for something--anything--to laugh at; the portions that got laughs (including my own) on the afternoon I attended were the hasty, nervy, and--yes--desperate sort. No insult meant to the audience, nor even to the playwright, director, or performers: just an observation. Glad I was able to entertain you, and thanks for your comment. (Just do be aware that I don't write simply for a 'blogging' race.)

Allan Girod said...

The exact line is "I could feel them lying next to me and when I listened to them breathing it felt like me soul was being bleached."

i just performed the show in Perth, Western Australia.