photo: Joan Marcus
Bo Eason's career, as defensive back for the Oilers, was overshadowed by his brother Tony's more celebrated success as starting quarterback for the Patriots. Bo's solo show (now at 37 Arts following a successful run downtown a few years ago) changes their names and adds some fictional events, but it seems essentially to be a monologue written from the blood and sweat of his real-life struggles in his brother's shadow. The play's greatest strength is its inside-the-helmet view of the experience of playing pro football: the most fascinating segment has Eason suiting up for a game and changing before our eyes from a doggedly determined but physically improbable pro hopeful to a steel-edged NFL gladiator. He becames grandiose, elevating football to a mythic level and taking pleasure in the uniform's implicit permission to let him play out naked animal aggression. In other words, it's a sensationally honest moment. Eason is the narrator of this story more than he is an actor, and he's been directed to do a lot of business to sell it on stage. Once in a while that proves to be overly indicating, because his writing is strong enough and he's an inviting and confident enough personality to do the job with less.