America's home video

The Devil's Home Movies

By Larry Myers
Directed by Robert Haufrecht
The Common Basis Theatre and RWM Playwrights Lab
750 Eighth Avenue, Rm. 500 (340-1112)
Equity showcase (closes Sept. 26)
By Andrès J. Wrath

Watching Larry Myers's The Devil's Home Movies through conventional glasses is useless. The lack of a dramatic engine, plot points, character development, or even a logical scheme may make you angry. However, what is clear with all that said and done in Common Basis and RWM Playwrights Lab's production is a hilarious, frustrating, and disturbing mess of a jigsaw puzzle.

Prefaced as a period piece set in the late 1980s, Lincoln, The Car, The Man The Tunnel is an oddly moving play about romance, connection, and sex. Harris (Robert Haufrecht), Abyna (Emanuela Villorini), Murphy (Kresimir Novakovic), and Kelly (Daniela Iannone) are the '80s everyman/woman searching, yearning, clawing, and screaming at each other for love. Here, the need to have love and to accept a partner's shortcomings is key.

The optimism of Lincoln is blown apart in the dark and violent America presented in Devil's Home Movies. Characters start stories, stop stories, never continue the stories, etc. etc. The characters of Knife (Timothy Douglas), Derek (Shannon Gannon), Vance (Monte Zanca), Cookie (Susan Kostalow), Amber (Megan Wallace), and Polly (Darlene Violette) seem to be more types than real people. It's as if Myers had seen these people on Jerry Springer with the volume turned down and had a private one-on-one session with them in his head.

Where Lincoln and Home Movies are mosaic, Small Town Girls with Big Town Problems plays like a minicam hidden within the takeout boxes and mayonnaise jars of Mary's apartment. Mary (Susan Mitchell) moves to a small town and is visited by the Welcome Wagon woman, Ruth (Lissa Moira). The two women are like B-movie cavewomen playing on a 72-foot screen. They ramble, trip over the mess, get drunk, strip down to their bras and seem to be inhaling all the air out of Mary's pigsty of an apartment. Myers seems to suggest that Mary and Ruth are built only on their dreams. In a strangely poignant moment, the two women pontificate about two separate things, not really listening to each other, but waiting politely for the other to end so she can finish her story.

As directed by the talented Robert Haufrecht and acted with the usual high commitment found at the first-rate Common Basis Theatre Company, Larry Myers's The Devil's Home Movies is an extremely difficult piece made watchable. You may not love the pieces, you may in fact hate them, but the next morning when you wake up you may find yourself trying to fill in the missing links to the puzzle.

The sets by Julie Best and the lights by Joerg Schuessler lent a good amount of detail to the production.
Box Score:

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

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Copyright 1999 Andrès J. Wrath