Two-time OOBR Award-winner Larry Myers's quite wonderful Alpha & Beta Males strikes a refreshing chord in theatreland. In a time where many critics and theatregoers see theatrical viability as only superficial razzle-dazzle and easy payoffs, Myers's 23-odd monologues may seem an oddity. Never easy, Myers's monologues are harsh, painfully aware, and very very funny.
Although the title is a little obscure, the writing is first-rate, tightly written with much nuance. Not every monologue strikes home, but the ones that do hit hard. With "B.D." (Betty Davis), co-director Darlene Violette started the evening with much finesse. Like many of Myers's monologues, "B.D." is about obsession and America's search for perfection, usually in Hollywood's perception of what that is and the disappointment when it doesn't come to fruition. Each character brings an added dimension to this dilemma.
A strong running order served the evening well; the pieces fit together and at the same time appeared to be random. The actors got up on stage (in a cabaret space) and performed, then left the stage. At times this became a little monotonous, but directors Violette and Monte Zanca moved things along quite well. The actors were a terrifically talented bunch, although some of the internal builds with some of the pieces could have been stronger; and at times some of the actors seemed to be a little self-conscious. A wise feature consisted of two microphones on either side of the performers, which gave some of the louder moments of each monologue a haunting echo.
Casey Fatchett's "Talk Show Killer" was astonishing. It was based on the man brought into the Jenny Jones show because of a secret admirer -- and who was shocked to find out it was a man, so much so that he ended up murdering him. Fatchett by turns was disturbing and seductive as the killer. And the writing was Myers's at his most sublime.
Paul Coffey's "Keith Haring" was moving, as was Erica Herd as "Single Mother Clown." Larissa Laurel's "Diva" was hilarious, and Darlene Violette ended the show with a brilliant turn as a nurse who kills a James Dean wannabe to see what James Dean would look like dead. Also strong were Alex Erikson as the "Artist Model," Karlie Mossman's "Inauguration, " Keri Meoni's "Melanie Griffith," Eddie Manley's "Ex-Exotic Dancer," and Gwendelon Wilson's "Helen Hunt." George Bellici's "Crafts" and Blain Zuckerman as "James Dean" deserved kudos for their strong work. Others in this talented cast included David Glazer, John Gomez, Tammy Peterson, Troy Carson, Betty Sherman, Janine Bartone, and Karlie Mossman.
There was no set to speak of, and it wasn't needed, and the lights consisted of one spot on the performers center stage.
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Copyright 2001 Andrés J. Wrath