Home of the brave


By Kyle Jarrow
Directed by Alex Timbers
Prospect Theater Company
Performance Space 122
Equity showcase (closed)
Review by Elias Stimac

The gunshots outside the suburban house are constant, the explosions sporadic but relentless. There is a war going on in the backyard, and the residents are completely oblivious to the amount of danger they are in.

Welcome to Kyle Jarrow's Gugala, an apocalyptic tragicomedy with eerie resonance to today's war-torn situation. Jarrow's intermissionless play attempts to make sense of the senseless acts of war, and does so with both humor and humanity.

A frazzled widow (Terianne Falcone) and her conflicted son (Fred DeReau) attempt to go on with their daily lives while the carnage of the unspecified battle rages around them. The son is dressed and ready to go to the office; the mother warns him against it while she dances to vintage music. But when a mysterious girl (Jennifer Blood) arrives at their doorstep, the pair are forced to face the reality of the situation. The stranger, scared and scarred and speaking in gibberish, causes even more friction between mother and son.

Friendly neighbors Mr. and Mrs. Henderson (Mike Durell and Desiree Burch), whose house has recently been obliterated, miraculously appear to counsel the mother through her confused state. But the tidings they bear aren't exactly what she was hoping to hear. Meanwhile, a young soldier (B. Brian Argotsinger) stands alone in the street, waiting for reinforcements from his fellow comrades while conversing with (and complaining to) God. Little does he know that he will soon join the others on a spiritual journey fueled by a renewed sense of optimism and hope.

The entire cast did a credible job of conveying the dark tone of Jarrow's script, under the clever staging of director Alex Timbers. Also, Timbers did a solid job of keeping the farcical action flowing smoothly between locales and building the tension as the mayhem escalated.

The ensemble found a happy medium between chaotic confrontations and sensitive self-realizations. Falcone and DeReau were frenzied and funny in the central roles, and Blood handled both nonsensical dialogue and singing chores with equal skill. Argotsinger was hilarious as the unassuming soldier, and Durell and Burch added an unsettling presence as the helpful neighbors.

The sparse set design by Christopher Ludwig featured a painted backdrop (graphic work by Quinnie Tan) and a television that endlessly projected violent images (video design by Jamie Ponsoldt). The uncredited costumes went a long way to indicate the suburban setting of the story. Walter Trarbach deserved special praise for his hypnotic, disturbing sound design.

Box Score:

Writing: 1
Directing: 1
Acting: 2
Set: 1
Costumes: 1
Lighting/Sound: 2

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Copyright 2002 Elias Stimac