Gimptown and Pumping for Jill

By Alex Dawson
Directed by Jane Hardy
Rummy Room
By Gareth Smith
Directed by Eric Werner
Bon Bock Productions
Red Room at KGB
85 E. 4th St. (777-6088)
Non-Equity Production (closes April 16)
Review by Andrès J. Wrath

Bon Bock Productions' triple bill of one-acts - Gimptown, Pumping for Jill, and Rummy Room - had some good writing and acting, but the general results were mixed.

The best that can be said about Gimptown, by Alex Dawson and directed by Jane Hardy, is that it was mercifully short. A one-man show acted by Michael Nathanson, the play has no dramatic event or anything that holds much interest in its 15 minutes. The speaker is obsessed with dwarfs and Foodtown, which he renames Gimptown, and he obnoxiously riffs on them, using words to compensate for a lack of dramatic engine. Even if this were straight performance art and not a play, it would still need a reason for taking place. Perhaps if the piece were deeper than the riff on gimps and he used the gimps as just a trigger, than Gimptown would have more resonance.

Although Pumping for Jill was written and directed by the same duo who brought you Gimptown, you would hardly know it after. Here there is a dramatic engine, mystery, and a movement to the action. Axel (Jeff Maschi) and Looth (Richard Sibello) are two gas-station attendants sitting around talking, riffing about life and girls, and waiting for the next car to beep to give them something to do until the end of their shift. Axel is obsessed by a customer he calls Jill, from the gold J around her neck. Looth tries to convince him that this girl is only a figment of his imagination. The play was acted with comic virtuosity by Mashi and Sibello and was both appealing and very funny. Where the play lost steam, however, was when the characters talked more about what was happening offstage and not on. However, the ending is ironic and wonderfully mysterious.

The only thing that saves Gareth Smith's Rummy Room (directed by Eric Werner) from being a bar room episode of Friends is its downright ugly view on friendship and alcoholism. Jack (Mercello Cabezas) has just broken up with his girlfriend Jen (Jennifer Huttenberger) because of a drawing he did - the girl in the drawing is supposed to be Jen, though everyone else (including Jen) says it's not. His friends are pretty much happy about the breakup, since they get their drinking buddy back. Where the play gets a little strained is in the Laurie (Janine deBoisblanc) and Chris (Craig McNulty) characters, who seem written too explicitly and more as types than actual people; and the revelation at the end seems a little tacked-on and unearned. The play offered, however, some solid and noteworthy performances by Cabezas, Huttenberger, deBoisblanc, McNulty, Chad Brown, and Amy Parlow.

Technically the production was very solid. The uncredited lights all around was excellent; Alex Dawson's set for Pumping was first-rate and effective.
Box Score:

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

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Copyright 2000 Andrès J. Wrath