Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Native Speech"

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"Native Speech"

by Eric Overmyer
Directed by Steve Rotolo

Set Design by Duncan McCulloch & Steve Rotolo
Lighting Design by Greg Jutkowicz
Costume Design by Sheilah Cruickshank
Sound Design by Duncan McCulloch
Assistant Director Sheilah Cruickshanke
Stage Manager Ed Fians

Hungry Mother.....................................Peter Darrigo
Freelance.................................................Sonya Raye
Belly Up...............................................Dennis Roach
Charlie Samoa..............................William McGregor
Johnnie Sucrose...............................Michael S. Miller
Jimmy Shillelagh/Crazy Joe Navajo....Michael Walker
Janis...................................................Jackie Therieau
The Mook............................Wesley Lawrence Taylor
Hoover/Navajo...............................George O'Connor
Freddy Navajo/Loud Speaker..................Tess DeCosta

In the weird world Eric Overmyer and Molasses Tank Productions have created at the Threshold Theatre a word-drunk disc-jockey (Peter Darrigo) floats in his own fantasies, making love to a microphone. Calling himself Hungry Mother, he is the only owner and intermittent broadcaster whose signal "barely reaches the local police precinct; sometimes I think it doesn't even get as far as the next block." But someone must be tuning in: Hungry Mother keeps meeting or getting phone calls from people who take his motormouthing dicta seriously, even though he swears he makes up everything (including his best-buys-in drugs tips) out of whole cloth.

Both inside his closet-sized "studio" and out in what might be called the real world, everything is sleaze, disshevel and decay --- the ragged edge of disfunctionality. In the streets he meets Freelance (Sonya Raye), a hooker dangerously declaring independence from her pimp. In a bar he meets Belly Up (Dennis Roach), an admiring alcoholic. In his flashback-dreams he remembers Charlie Samoa (William McGregor) Johnnie Sucrose (Michael S. Miller) and Jimmy Shillelagh (Michael Walker) --- guys he first ran into in the slammer. (Bootleg radio stations are illegal, y'dig?)

Designers Duncan McCulloch and the show's director Steve Rotolo divide the wide, intimate Threshold stage into three areas: The cramped studio center stage, the bar stage-right, the street stage-left --- each defined by Greg Jutkiewicz' pools of light --- though the constantly shifting story may take place nowhere but in Hungry Mother's mind.

But if that's true he's one self-destructive Mother, considering the people who visit his audio closet: Janis (Jackie Therieau) phones and visits needing understanding ("I can't even help myself, how can I possibly help you?") and when she learns her intimate confessions were all broadcast she slits her wrists, on the phone and on the air. Crazy Joe Navajo's rock band (Michael Walker, George O'Connor & Tess DeCosta) come to play, and wreck the joint.

The real nemesis here, though, is Freelance's pimp The Mook (Wesley Lawrence Taylor), who's ice-cool, but pissed. Is it because of the Freelance friendship? Is it because all the lies about drug- and sex-traffic alerted the fuzz? Or is it just because Hungry Mother is talkin' too Black?

This is an over-the-top play, and Peter Darrigo's Hungry Mother, talking or drinking or getting mugged or all three at once, is centerstage every moment. Except for George O'Connor and backup singing his arrangement of Overmyer's song "Fucking on Fiberglass" the focus is always on him. He handles the avalanche of verbiage with stunning concentration.

This show plays constant games with reality, but the logo from their ad --- a microphone with teeth --- sums up its gritty, outlandish send-ups of just about everything to perfection.

Love,
===Anon.


"Native Speech" (18 October - 11 November)
MOLASSES TANK PRODUCTIONS
Threshold Theatre, 791 Tremont Street, BOSTON, MA
1 (617) 471-5384


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