Scenes from a beer commercial

Eagle Hills, Eagle Ridge, Eagle Landing

By Brett Neveu
Directed Ian Morgan
Spring Theatreworks, Inc.
The Red Room
Equity Showcase (closed)
Review by Adam Cooper

In Brett Neveu's tiresome and talky play Eagle Hills, Eagle Ridge, Eagle Landing, three youngish corporate types, Mike (Doug Simpson), Andy (Michael Brandt), and Kevin (Matthew Gray) meet in their usual bar to escape together from their pre-fabricated lives. In a vein similar to the popular 1990s movies where Gen-Xers pontificated on the existential meanings of Cap'n Crunch, these three slackers in suits drift through banal and brief commentary on a variety of topics, never once striking deep into something truly meaningful. They talk but they don't listen, and they don't communicate because none of them wants to hear what the others have to say.

The play has the kind of male characters that are only believable if one lives inside a TV set. Apparently they function well enough within a corporation, but once they enter a bar they act as if their heads were clobbered with a sledgehammer. They are stock corporate types, all with virtually identical costumes: the daffy and slightly irritating child-man, the irascible and narrow-minded curmudgeon, and the muddled and devicey Everyman who does not fit into the aforementioned categories.

Structurally, the play is reminiscent of a poor man's Waiting For Godot. The play is divided into two parallel scenes set in the same bar with the characters waiting, suffering from inactivity, and uttering elliptical pseudo-philosophical banter. The play has only one (unearned) event: at the end of the first scene, Kevin attempts to escape from his life's routine by disappearing into the suburban wilderness for some enlightening adventure. In the second scene he returns and his friends grill him unsuccessfully on his whereabouts. In effect the script stretches out for seventy minutes what should be the initial catalyzing event of the play.

Directorial choices (Ian Morgan) attempted to highlight the mechanical nature of their lives but ironically emphasized the mechanics of the production. The actors portrayed stasis both in the monotony of their exchanges and in their stylized robotic movements between each vignette. Playing stasis for long was ineffective, not only because plays are movement but also because the subtextual concept was immediately transparent.

Central to this production was the attempt to unmask the mythology of suburban nirvana, a subject that has been picked apart and critiqued for decades. Not only does the play say nothing new but also its characters and action are not based in any reality. The world of the play seemingly had no rules, and so anything characters said and did would evaporate, making curiosity and caring about them all but impossible.

Stilted performances also contributed to lack of dynamism in the production. Each characterization was one-dimensional and almost painfully repetitious. Mike's perpetually dense commentary and Andy's belligerent questioning of Kevin in scene two played like endlessly striking the same piano key.

Lighting (Justin Anderson) and costume design (uncredited) were both adequate but unimaginative. The sound design (uncredited), which comprised a stylized usage of popular music and background chatter, was mildly engaging but not wholly effective. The set design (uncredited), consisting of a black set and metallic table and chairs, was interesting. Not only did it convey sterility enmeshed with material wealth, but it also meaningfully provided three perches from which the play's "three eagles" could survey their lives, or lack thereof.

 Box Score:

Writing: 0
Directing: 0
Acting: 0
Set: 1
Costumes: 1
Lighting/Sound: 1

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Copyright 2002 Adam Cooper