May 19, 2010

Ya Gotta Hand it to Them

I love Martin McDonagh's perversely humorous writing. I'm sorry I missed his The Beauty Queen of Leenane and The Lieutenant of Inishmore but I loved his film In Bruges. So it was perfect when I heard Christopher Walken and Sam Rockwell will be in his new play, A Behanding in Spokane. These two actors have always fascinated me with their choice of roles and projects.

In this one, Mr. Walken is Carmichael, a man searching for his left hand for almost 50 years. He checks into a dingy hotel where he meets Mervyn (Mr. Rockwell), an employee who's strangely averse to being called receptionist. He is in town because a young couple claims to have found the aforementioned missing appendage. And violent hilarity with a steady barrage of foul language can only ensue. The play manages to offend black people, women and probably everybody else. It is a dark comedy so be prepared to leave your sensitivities at the door.

Anthony Mackie, after seeing him in The Hurt Locker, was great in his comic turn as Toby, the bungling weed dealer/conman. Zoe Kazan plays his girlfriend Marilyn, also good but at times a bit overwrought. But then again, if a loony person who looks like Chris Walken is threatening to off you, I'd be more than a little agitated as well.
The play is savagely funny, and even the cast knows it. There was a grisly and ridiculously comic fight scene where umm, body parts get thrown around. The 3 actors onstage lost it for a short while. Professionals that they are, they all managed to recover.
Mervyn was a shady character with odd motivations. He tries to help. Or not. His monologue was outrageously amusing. I wasn't quite sure how his character would end up, how the show would end. But I was gratified. One of the best. last. lines. ever.
It was a privilege and a thrill to see the genius Christopher Walken. He is well known for his offbeat performances, and he stays true to this reputation. The way he delivers his lines, the pauses, the looks, the mannerisms...all very unique and utterly compelling. Carmichael is bizarre, mesmerizing and hilarious. I missed him when he wasn't onstage. I wonder why they haven't done "Being Christopher Walken" yet. That would a be a trip.

Sam Rockwell only stopped for a few autographs and one photo. Mr. Walken does not come out after matinees. (Not embarrassed to say I was a little relieved. That man scares me. In a good way.)

I honestly cannot recall laughing this much at a play. Its run ends 06 June. Catch it while you can. Give them a much-deserved hand.


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