Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Lakeboat (Steep Theatre)
Have you ever heard of Mamet-Speak? It's a style of dialogue made popular by a famous playwright named David Mamet. He writes lines in the way people really talk. Some people. Not ALL people.
Most of his plays are about dudes who drink a lot and worry about bitches and have nothing on the horizon and have blown all their chances for happiness years ago at the OTB. They say lines like, "I fucking love sandwiches" and "I was fucking this girl with a broadsword" and then their lines get cut off because they are thinking of something else.
Well, the drinkinest theatre company in town, Steep Theatre, is busy doing a version of a Mamet classic called Lakeboat.
Lakeboat is about this kid named Dale (the sweet-skinned Nick Horst) who gets hired for the summer to work on a boat that goes between the Great Lakes and delivers steel or something. You soon find out that this kid is Jewish and has no business being on a boat so he gets made the cook, because the last cook died in a bank robbery the night before. Dale spends all day peeling potatoes and having homosexual undertones with other men on the boat, and talks about what he has to look forward to back in college.
The only problem is, he doesn't know that he is in a Mamet play and so his future is not looking very good.
You will also meet a jerk named Collins, who is basically the bitch of the Captain. He spends almost every scene trying to get a sandwich for him. It is played with robust gusto by the always impressive Alex Gillmor.
There's also Stan, brought to cold, stark reality by Peter Moore. Stan is a guy on the boat who drinks all day and is complaining about having a hangover all the time. He has nothing to look forward to, nor does he have a home. He pretty much just lives at the lake and eats sandwiches and drinks whiskey all day.
Let's talk for a second about these two guys, Alex Gillmor and Peter Moore. These dudes are some of the very finest actors in the city, but you have never heard of them before. Know why? Because they only work at Steep. They are the Co-Founders and Artistic Directors and don't wanna have anything to do with you or your lousy theatre so don't even bother asking them. They have made quite a nice little home for themselves over the years and continue to do vaguely homoerotic theatre for the masses.
Well, the day on the boat is going by great and everyone is doing a great job, but for some reason, nobody can be happy! There's a fireman in the galleys played by the always remarkable and rakish Jim Poole and a dude named Joe (played by the handsome Sean Bolger) that doesn't seem to do anything besides talk to Dale about ballet dancing.
FYI: This is my first time seeing Sean Bolger, but now I see what all the fuss is about, ladies.
Now let's quit beating around the bush and talk about a guy in this play named Eric Roach. Maybe you've heard of him, because he is the highlight of the show. Now I'm sure you all realize that Eric is my work husband, but that doesn't make what I'm saying less true.
He plays this guy named Fred that has had a rough string of luck lately with the ponies and the dames but has high hopes of getting it all straightened out.
Roach has this monologue where he talks about his first date with some skirt and he's humping her and punching her in the face or something, I wasn't totally paying attention, but the emotional investment he put in made the audience stop and cheer for him when he finished. It was truly a moment of unrivaled grace yet to be seen on any American stage this century.
Lakeboat was directed by a man named G.J. Cederquist. I've never met this dude before but he must know a lot about lakeboats because this set had me thinking that I was right there, on this lakeboat.
The only criticism worthy of mentioning is that lack of sub textual work done. There are lots of opportunities passed up where somebody could be saying one thing, and really mean something else. I don't know if it would help the play or not, but I really like to read between the lines from time to time, gang!
Go see Lakeboat and have a slice of Harsh-reality-of-men-everywhere-in-80-minutes Pie for dinner!
-Anderson Lawfer, Eric Roach