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.