Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Qualification of Douglas Evans

Derek Ahonen’s The Qualification of Douglas Evans, directed by James Kautz, is the second in the Amoralists' "two play repertory exploring man’s vicious cycles." (The other is Enter at Forest Lawn, reviewed here.) Ahonen is the extraordinary author of such amazing plays as The Bad and the Better, Happy in the Poorhouse, and The Pied Pipers of the Lower East Side. His plays are distinguished by their passion, poetry, humor, and unique point of view. Usually.

Samantha Strelitz, Penny Bittone,
Derek Ahonen
Russ Rowland
The Qualification of Douglas Evans is passionate and poetic, but it is far from unique and almost totally lacks humor. The story of Douglas Evans (well-played by the author), a drunk playwright of dubious talent, The Qualification of Douglas Evans follows a familiar path to rock bottom as Evans alienates everyone in his life, including the women who inexplicably care about him. (I suspect that blondes who throw themselves at drunks exist much more frequently in the minds of men than in the reality of women, but I suppose I could be wrong. I hope not.) 

While The Qualification of Douglas Evans is largely unpleasant, unedifying, and kind of pointless, it doesn't lack redeeming features. The cast is excellent; in particular, Penny Bittone is impressively effective in his many roles, and Barbara Weetman breathes dimensionality into characters who could easily be flat and cliche in lesser hands. The writing has moments of ugly beauty, and the show is well-paced and involving until a series of ill-conceived blackouts toward the end. 

I love the Amoralists, and it gives me no pleasure to give them not one, but two, mediocre reviews. However, their "two play repertory exploring man’s vicious cycles" comes across more as a two play rep exploring edgy-male cliches and fantasies.

(press ticket; second row) 

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