Sunday, September 12, 2010

Dobama opener is an absurdist stew

(Andrew Cruse, left, as Sean, engages in unrelenting pandemonium with Daniel McElhaney, as Blake, and Carly Germany, as Hayley, in Enda Walsh's "The Walworth Farce" at Dobama Theatre. Photo by Steve Wagner.) 

Enda Walsh's "The Walworth Farce" commences Dobama Theatre's 51st season and second year in its splendid new home at the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library. At approximately 8:05 p.m., two unsavory sons start to perform film-noirish role plays for a disapproval old sod of a dad. While enacting these humiliations to please the old man, somebody turns on a tape recording of Bing Crosby singing "Tura lura lura." Ah, we surmise, an allegory concerning the crooner's notorious mistreatment of his young sons. Yet as the cacophony increases, we think, oh, theater of the absurd, for there isn't a comprehensible line or sentiment until about 9:10, when the wayward brothers - for inexplicable reasons - kidnap and begin to torture an appealing grocery clerk from a nearby store.

To evaluate whether this is your type of theater, we suggest that you first play on your TV, at full volume, some old Monty Python skits while having dad overact passages from Genet and get cousin Archie to simultaneously scream Pinter pauses. If you can honestly say, that's entertainment, by all means go.

The fact that this frenetic concoction is rendered with such style, timing and aplomb is further proof that director Marc Moritz is part lion tamer, craftsman extraordinaire and a rescuer of impossible material. For Moritz has given Daniel McElhaney, Andrew Cruse, Carly Germany and Bob Goddard inner lives and dashes of charisma nowhere to be found in the text. This may sound terribly provincial, but how we yearn for Moritz and crew to expand their talents in a worthy vehicle - let's say, "You Can't Take it With You."

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