My roommate, the guerilla


To The Teeth: A Revolutionary Comedy


Written by David Patterson

Directed by Rebecca A. Trent

Ratutu Collaborative (

The Creek Theatre, 10-93 Jackson Avenue, Long Island City

Equity showcase (closed)

Review by Judd Hollander


When the first thing one sees on stage is a man in army fatigues with an M-16 rifle, complete with laser scope, which he points at the audience, one doesn't expect too many laughs.  However, that's exactly what occurs in David Patterson's biting To The Teeth: A Revolutionary Comedy. Combining elements of The Lieutenant of Inishmore and The Little Murders, the work presents a world where things have gone slightly insane. It's not a perfect work by any means, but the elements are all there and with some judicious work, it could turn into something very special.


Preston (James Nocito), an everyday working stiff, returns from a Hawaiian vacation (where he was supposed to propose to his girlfriend Katherine (Amy Kersten) but got cold feet), to find his roommate Brody (Lars Drew) has seemingly gone off the deep end.  Angry at the way the political and security situation in the country (and abroad) has deteriorated, Brody has joined a shadowy splinter group (code name: SPLAT) determined to safeguard all they dear from any outside danger. To this end, he has been stockpiling guns (mailed to him in boxes marked "patio furniture"), a rocket launcher (obtained from eBay) and God knows what else. Brody has financed this operation by using money earmarked for rent; not to mention selling off their furniture, TV, and DVD player (the latter two of which belonged to Preston).  


While trying to get a straight answer about what's going on, Preston also has to deal with Brody's two gung-ho cohorts; code names: Guppy and Seabass (Shannon MacMillan and Tom Pilutik) and try to explain the situation to a somewhat confused Katherine and his own rather vapid parents (Claysey Everett and Rick Benson).


As Act II begins, Preston emerges from a deep sleep to find himself in a surrealistic nightmare. Both his parents and girlfriend have signed up with Brody and are ready for combat. What's more, the apartment has become a sort of makeshift fortress in lock-down mode, with no clear information from the outside world. Very soon the question for the audience becomes just who is crazy here and who is simply blind to the truth.


The script's strongest element is its ambiguity.  The audience is never told exactly who the enemy is (though politicians and terrorism are mentioned), letting them draw their own conclusions. Additionally we never see what made Preston’s parents and Katherine decide to enlist in Brody's war, making them seem either completely nuts or perhaps they know something we don't.  There are also some interesting literary references, such as A Tale of Two Cities and Animal Farm, both which deal not only with revolutions but also what happens to the victors after winning such a struggle.


Drew is perfect as the paranoid Brody, coming off as a total conspiracy nut with his paranoia magnified to the nth degree. In addition to having a wonderful stage presence, the makeup of the character is such that he simply doesn't respond to things which don't' concern him (such as when Preston asks him how he paid for his arsenal).  All that's important to him is his cause.  But the character of Preston, as written, is a bit of a problem.  Nocito plays Preston well as the bland dufus caught in a situation he can't understand, but his saneness, as it were, doesn't go far enough.  He lets Brody off the hook time and again when he doesn't respond to his questioning, nor does he try to undo some of the havoc his roommate has caused. As written, Preston is too wishy-washy to really root for. Kersten is good as someone who goes from a loyal girlfriend to a kick-ass solider; but Benson and Everett as Preston's folks are more annoying than anything else.  Instead of making them flesh and blood characters, the script basically reduces them to tired stereotypes.  (It does that for the landlady Mrs. Mao (Traci Redmond) as well, but at least she's funny.)  Pilutik and MacMillan provide good comic relief and interesting romantic rivals (in their eyes anyway) for Katherine's affection.


Direction by Rebecca A. Trent is a bit slipshod. All of the scenes with Brody are particularly well-staged, but others (often ones with Preston) slow the action down and don't move the story along as strongly as they should. Also, the final scenes (which include a key change of ideals) happen a bit too abruptly to really be believable. The setting is adequate and the costumes are okay.  To The Teeth is not ready for the prime time stage just yet, but if those involved are willing to work at it, this is one piece to keep an eye out for in the future.


Also in the cast were Stephano Andreas, Matt Stallworth, Anna Hartsfield and John Morton.

Box Score:

Writing: 1

Directing: 1

Acting: 1

Sets: 1

Costumes: 1

Lighting/Sound: 1

Copyright 2007 Judd Hollander

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