nytheatre.com review by David DelGrosso
August 15, 2007
Buddy's girlfriend has left him because he won't punch her in the face like she wants him to. His best friend, Angel, comes to his apartment promising that, together, they will get to the bottom of Buddy's breakup. When Angel pours an enormous pile of coke on the table, you know they are in for a long night. And when you consider how shrill and manic the characters of Angel and Buddy are before they've even snorted a bit of it... you start to feel that you're in for a long night, too.
At a rapid-fire pace, the two attempt to sort out what's wrong with Buddy. Soon Angel is paying more attention to the empty air than his friend, as he finds himself haunted by the ghost of his father, who is only named in the program as OGM. At least, I think it is Angel that is being haunted—OGM directly addresses the audience early in the play, commenting on Angel and Buddy's situation, but I think we are meant to believe that Angel sees this, too, as later he and this hallucination interact directly. The idea that OGM and a number of other characters are appearing as hallucinations is further complicated by a woman who appears several times to address the audience. Neither Angel nor Buddy seems to notice, and certainly they never comment on what she has to say. This unnamed woman explains that aliens are using women as hosts for tiny, extraterrestrial pilots and that these pilots must avoid semen at all costs. I think she might be one of these hosts, or she might be one of the aliens in charge. Or both, I'm not sure. I'll just say that whatever these speeches are meant to be getting it, it is an idea that hasn't fully developed by the end of the play and doesn't connect with Angel or Buddy in any way I could discern.
I've learned to be suspicious when hard drugs are introduced into the play, as mind-altering drugs can be used as a dramaturgical shortcut. Like a bag of mob money dropped into a character's lap to create a Hollywood plot, drugs are often used as a kind of easy currency to buy drama and event. Two characters under the influence are allowed to go off on whatever tangent the playwright desires, their behavior doesn't need to be justified, their tempers can boil in an instant, and they can even cheat other characters into the play: Why do the heavy lifting of creating a situation for Angel to confront his father when he can just hallucinate him in? A drug binge also allows the stakes of the play to skyrocket artificially. Two characters in a room talking suddenly becomes a crisis because, as Angel and Buddy keep saying, "We're so fucked up on these drugs!" It is a refrain that is both a defense for every action and, unfortunately, a reason to dismiss every realization as suspect.
Playwright Ken Ferrigni, who also plays Buddy, shows talent in the voice that he gives the characters. His writing has a LaBute-like vicious wit to it and there are some genuinely funny lines in the play. I do think that, under his pen, these characters have the potential of getting to the bottom of their situation, I just think that the play in its current state doesn't give them the chance to get there, and instead too quickly surrounds them with visions and distractions. In one moment early in the play, OGM talks to the audience about Angel and Buddy and implores us to, "Find it in your heart to be interested in them." I tried. I just don't feel that the play gave me the chance to get a clear enough look.