nytheatre.com review by Natily Blair
I can't stand the sentiment: "now I
know how (refugees, minorities, handicapped people) people feel, because
I saw a play." Gregg Mozgala’s autobiographical show, Game Legs,
is about growing up and struggling with his cerebral palsy. Fortunately,
he hits the nail on the head and smacks your thumb in the process. It’s
an uncomfortable subject, no matter how educated and politically correct
you think you are, and Mozgala doesn't shy away from being shocking.
Game Legs is entertaining, touching and appropriately awkward.
August 15, 2002
With a mix of genres (including a standup routine, a musical number with frog puppets, and "realistic" high school love scenes), the show follows his growth into early adulthood, including the troubles of dating the prettiest girl in school, Annie (Paige Wilson). The bigger issues are more captivating, though. Gregg mentions a feeling of hate and anger toward the able-bodied population for making him feel repulsed by other handicapped persons on the street—that's enthralling, but it's treated like a minor detail.
Mozgala’s schoolyard adaptation of Edmond's "legitimate" speech from King Lear is worth the price of admission—grounded, graceful, and deliciously uncomfortable to watch. And there’s a song called "Not In the Navy," in which his parents tell him why he can't be a fighter pilot, that is funny and touching.
It’s a little bumpy, (and, on the night I saw it, a little rushed) but director Moritz von Steulpnagel does a fine job of keeping the talented ensemble cast moving. The script employs a few conventions ready for the dust bin—a "dating game" takeoff, for example—but it also includes some fresh dramatic constructs as well. There is an imaginary wounded soldier (Chris Thorn) who teaches Gregg right from wrong. The flashback to a 3rd grade pageant is cute (and gives Julia Henderson and Kathryn Zamora-Benson a chance to shine) and Allen Warnock’s "Meatman" is haunting, offering physical deformity to those who long to wear their "freak" badges on the outside.
The unanswered questions in this piece are more compelling than the clichis. Despite the awkwardness of the play, Mozgala’s talent as both writer and performer is obvious, and the questions raised are provocative. This is not an after school special—it’s edgy, bold, and not for the faint of heart. I recommend it to anyone ready to mine for its many hidden gems.