Somewhere in Paul Knowles & Lacy J. Thomas's new comedy Not With a Bang, But... is a play dying to be realized. It is in fact three. Produced in partnership with Pact Theatre, Wings' co-production of this new play offered a wildly uneven production and script, set in the Catskills over Christmas. David (Paul Nicholas) brings his secretively bisexual lover Darrel (Jim Ireland), his girlfriend Lois (Sarah Ireland), and his friend Heather (Jane Petrov), a porno star who is suffering from crying fits waiting for her big break in a Fellini film, up to meet his parents Carl (Jerome Weinstein) and Mae (Gloria Sauve), an interracial couple. To top things off, there is a blizzard forcing these characters to remain in the house.
Part farce, coming-out drama, and racial issue play, the writing never fully takes on one of its premises. Instead it alternates uneasily between all three, trying to do everything and, alas, not achieving much strength in any. The play offers too many expository moments telling us what the play's action is, rather than showing it to us. Although the play is well-intentioned, the authors have not fully worked itself out what it is trying to do. Is it about David coming out to his parents, or David making a choice between Lois and Darrel, or about Carl throwing these flamboyant messes out of his house? Further, in order for us to care about what is happening on stage we need the protagonist David to work something out. He brings his ex-boyfriend and his current girlfriend for no apparent reason than to shock his father, but he wants everything to be a big secret. If he is trying to win his father's approval or trying to have the upper hand on his father, his actions are never clear. He seems more interested in bedhopping and expounding on his pain. The strongest things in the writing are the farcical elements played by the three friends, which lift Not With a Bang, But... to a higher level. In these scenes, the characters' actions are strong, motivated, and truly very funny.
The two standouts were Sarah Ireland and Jane Petrov, who transcended over-the-top camp roles into true comic delight. Jim Ireland was also very funny when he was not pushing; Paul Nicholas and Gloria Sauve did good work, although they were constantly defeated by the script's cliches; and Jerome Weinstein pushed much more than he should have. Director Phillip Filiato set up a few very pretty stage pictures but seemed at a loss on how to get a cohesive production happening. The set design by Sid Hammond was truly wonderful in capturing the Christmas Holiday season. The lights by David Logan were very well done, and the costumes by Injy Carpenter were more than adequate.
Box Score Writing: 1 Directing: 1 Acting: 1 Set: 2 Constumes: 1 Lighting/Sound: 2
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Copyright 2000 Doug DeVita