This Bud's for you


Written, performed, produced, and directed by Joe Lazenby
Theatre for the New City (closed)
Review by John Chatterton

Pub presents Anthony the friendly local bartender telling stories about how he and his father got into the bar business, which has gone steadily downhill ever since. Bam! The denizens of the family bar (the Three Horses, named after the trifecta that earned the capital to start it) start showing up, all portrayed, or course, by Anthony, Joe Lazenby.

There's the hardhatted subway worker, who tells of the rats and the homeless down there. He earns $17 an hour, but he can get the homeless guys to wield his pneumatic drill for something like $2, so he gets to make $15 an hour to relax in the bar. Provided the homeless guy doesn't drill into the third rail and fry himself. And the enraged ex-girlfriend here to collect $54 for utilities from the last month they lived together, before he had to move into the back room. And the amusing black deliveryman who savors the shot of Sambuca Anthony gives him -- "Buca! That's African! Gotta stay in touch with my heritage!" And Anthony's own father, in a scary bit wherein he tells his son that he (Anthony) killed his mother by giving her breast cancer as a baby, after which the father covers the bar with Jameson's, tries to set it on fire, and prepares to shoot himself in self-pity (a sham, it turns out). There are also the regular barfly, old and barely understandable from the long years of drinking and smoking, who wears a motorcycle helmet so when he falls down drunk he won't hurt himself too much, and the real-estate broker (here to sell the worthless bar and the valuable land on which it sits) who makes deals on two cellphones at once. In a neat wrap, Anthony tells the audience that his father, a former professional actor, put the son up to writing the play and performing it, as a form of oral history.

The performance and writing were refreshing and energetic, if sometimes verging on the stereotypical and heavy-handed. A director might have told the actor to stand still more and make the most of movements. Perhaps the most theatrically exciting moments were when Anthony recreated the story of Macbeth with a few bottles of liquor, pouring Bloody Mary mix over one of them to show the murdered Duncan.

The set, stretching the considerable width of the stage, comprised a nondescript bar, seen from behind; a cot; and a rooftop, onto which the protagonist climbed to fix the TV antenna, almost electrocuting himself. Costumes were whatever Anthony could pull on in the course of a cross backstage between scenes. The lighting was generally dim and unexpressive. The sound design, involving a lot of rock 'n' roll, was effective, especially as a sonic backdrop for Anthony's energetic, spotlit air guitar.

Box Score:

Writing: 1
Directing: 1
Acting: 1
Set: 1
Costumes: 1
Lighting/Sound: 1

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Copyright 2004 John Chatterton