Speedo & the Straight Man
nytheatre.com review by JJordan
February 29, 2008
Speedo & the Straight Man by Gerard Karabin is the story of one man's journey of self-discovery. This man, Gerry, is the son of a man who abandons him at a peewee baseball game after he freezes up and isn't able to catch the home run ball that wins the opposing team the game. Gerry's best friend, Joe, is a transvestite who's always getting beaten up and who spends a lot of time in the emergency room, forever awaiting Gerry to pick him up. Gerry struggles not with the fact that Joe, whom he's known since they were eight years old, is a transvestite, but that Joe is so accepting of himself, despite the violent consequences.
Gerry is not ok with who he is, essentially because his father was not ok with his son preferring poetry to sports. Speedo & the Straight Man tells the tale of how Gerry finds peace with himself. He befriends a small mouse he's finally caught in a trap in his apartment, whom he names Speedo due to his ability to get away from Gerry despite his efforts to whack him with the broom. Speedo patiently hears Gerry's story and his problems, which is ultimately all Gerry needs.
I found it hard to connect the dots between the scenes that made up the piece; the writing jumped around as much as Speedo from Gerry's broom. The scenes are very choppy, making it difficult to piece together what is happening at times. The only thing Gerry really seems connected to is Speedo. As a result, it was hard for me to feel connected to anything either.
For his part, actor Lucio Fernandez gives his all to this one-man show. It's a wonder he has the energy to bow after bringing to life Gerry, his abusive father, a game show host, and a homophobic neighbor. He races around Peter A. DuBo's set, which although beautiful looked like it belonged to a different show, as much mouse as man at times. The set is a table and chair in Gerry's apartment, surrounded by a bunch of full-length mirrors suspended from the ceiling. I only noted once that Gerry interacted with them, which seems like a missed opportunity.
The sound design, also by DuBo (who is also director and lighting designer), feels just right at times and too much at others. I found myself most enjoying the piece when it was just the audience, Gerry, and Speedo. The intimate story of how Gerry discovered self-worth despite his circumstances played best with little other than a man, a mouse, and as Gerry says, everything in between.