Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Snakebit"

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note: entire contents copyright 2001 by Larry Stark


by Marshall Grant
Directed by Lois Roach

Scenic Design by Eric Levenson
Lighting Design by C. Scott Ananian
Costume Design by Michelle Dowd
Sound Design by Matt Griffin
Properties by Dana Wolf, Paul Alix
Production Stage Manager Alyson Magliozzi


Michael.................Jeffrey Mello
Jenifer............Adrienne Krstansky
Jonathan.............Robert Pemberton
Young man.............Jason Schuchman
Alan David.................Naheem Allah
Mariama..................Sende Oliveira
Gary........................David Foley
Larry......................John Porcaro

Director Lois Roach delivers a fast-paced series of California life-slices in the SpeakEasy production of David Marshall Grant's "Snakebit". The playwright keeps some things from the audience, but his characters keep things from one another --- and even from themselves --- that bite when finally revealed. The quick, breezy upscale trio at the center of the action rarely take time out to listen to one another, until they must.

The play starts with Michael (Jeffrey Mello) talking, apparently to himself, about himself, in the disarrayed, sun-swamped apartment he's trying half-heartedly to move out of. Actually, he's talking not to himself or the audience, but to Jenifer (Adrianne Krstansky), half of a couple of lifelong friends in from New York because her husband Jonathan (Robert Pemberton) is auditioning for the plum role in a movie.

Jonathan is the ego-absorbed poster-boy for movie-actor-on-the-make, cell-phoning his agent so often it's hard to remember that Michael's recently-ex-lover Gary called, or that Jenifer is worried about the health of their daughter back in New York. Spats, friendly and marital, explode like firecrackers over the three days, and in the middle of it all Jason Schuchman as an apparent apartment-hunter wanders in to complicate matters. It's a very Left-Coast fast-forward on-the-edge sort of quick-tempered life-style kind of play.

The fact that Jonathan and Michael (a de-frocked social-worker) have been friends since school and Michael and Jenifer hear one another's confessions means the glue holding them together is stronger than the emotional explosions driving them to distraction. If the dialogue weren't so hip, if the actors weren't so vividly human, if the direction wasn't so swiftly and subtly paced, this could be a soap-opera. But it isn't. In fact, the emotional stakes are high, the flashes of self-awareness painful, and nowhere in the entire production is there a hint of insincerity.

The title, by the way, refers to a great film-star, beset by crushing adversity, plunging ahead --- living, working, refusing to quit though "Snakebit". For these ageing children of the late '60s, the metaphor is perfect. So is the production.


"Snakebit" (till 14 April)
Boston Center for the Arts
1 (617) 437-7731

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