Hello sailor




Written by Tony Zertuche

Directed by Eliza Beckwith

Living Image Arts (www.livingimagearts.org)

Kirk Theater at Theatre Row, 410 West 42nd St. (between 9th and 10th Aves.)

Equity showcase (February 7-23, 2008: Tue-Sat @ 8pm, Sun 23 @ 3pm & 8pm)

Review by Michael D. Jackson


Tony Zertuche’s new play, Anchors, is part comedy and part drama, depicting one man’s personal evolution from going nowhere to finding his purpose in life.  That seems to be the goal, but the protagonist, Michael Goliad (Renaldy Smith) never really comes to a conclusion about what he wants, for many of his problems are left unresolved.  However, after spending the first half of the story trying to find a way out of the Navy, he eventually decides to see it through––to finish what he’s started as far as the military is concerned.  Goliad’s options of getting discharged from the Navy are limited: he must either be on drugs or be homosexual.  His lame attempts to find a way out of the Navy are thwarted by his superiors Chief Pusser (Helen Coxe) and Chief Diaz (Andrew Eisenman), revealing in comic tones an authentic sense of boot camp military life (Zertuche served in the Navy from 1991-95).


Although there are many good scenes that are completely engaging, few seem to be brought to full potential.  Many scenes come to an end suddenly as if the idea has been dropped.  It takes a blackout to tell the audience that a scene is over.  There is nothing in the writing that gives a natural button to the ends of scenes, nor do they have little cliffhangers––something to keep our interest going with an expectation for what will happen next.  The worst moments of this kind are when it takes the house lights coming up to signal the audience that it is time to applaud for the end of act one and the start of the cast bowing to signal the end of the second act.  There was not much director Eliza Beckwith could do about this problem, for it needs to be worked out in the writing.  Otherwise, Beckwith handled the scenes with a clean, straight forward staging that was focused on the telling of the story.


Fine performances are given by everyone in the cast of nine.  Smith seems perfect as Goliad, who can’t seem to commit to anything.  He managed to make an ambiguous character likable and interesting enough to want to follow through the story.  Banaue Miclat as Goliad’s girlfriend Grace, in the second act, had an infectious sweetness to her and is equally convincing in the more demanding fights with Goliad over whether or not the two should be married.  Bryan Close made an amiable best friend who is our chief guide to Navy life in the Philippines.  Raushanah Simmons played the sympathetic Jeri Lewis (three jokes about her name being the same as the comedian where not completely successful––one would have done the job) and was an underused character that might have offered stronger contrast to Goliad through more of the play.  Kristin Villanueva as the bar girl Babe wrung quite a bit of good humor out of a small role.  Kyle Masteller brought a solid character to life in the role of Graham, another sailor who turned out to be unnecessary to the story over all.  Finally, Eisenman and Coxe as the drill sergeant types were properly humorous as well worn characters that have become overly familiar from every movie about boot camp.


Elisha Schaefer’s simple setting gives just the right feel of military life in a limited space, though she and the director might have worked together to smooth out the transitions from scene to scene.  The costumes by Kim Walker were just what they needed to be in every case, mostly depicting military uniforms.  Wilburn Bonnell’s lights and Geoffrey Roecker’s sound created the appropriate mood and atmosphere throughout.


The play is strangely engaging and possesses enough detail about military life and several key characters that are interesting enough to demand attention.  However, the feel of the play is choppy and as indecisive as its leading character.  For the future, hopefully Zertuche will follow his theme and see the play through to the end, for as of now it is not finished.



Box Score:


Writing: 1

Directing: 1

Acting: 2

Sets: 2

Costumes: 2

Lighting/Sound: 2


Copyright 2008 by Michael D. Jackson



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