Theater and Concert Reviews.
'Last Man Club'
by ROBERT MASSIMI about a year ago in REVIEW In The Dirt and Despair Very similar to a Sam Shepard play, Last Man Club is a gritty play, that is also reminiscent of a Twilight Zone episode. Set in a dust bowl, a family struggles with a deep drought. Desperate to have rain, they believe it will come, even if it by a snake oil salesman.
In what was excellent staging, (we smelled the dirt throughout the performance), the sound effects and lighting add to the edginess of this play. The music goes so well in creating the mood for the audience. With all three in place, it lets the audience focus squarely on the play at hand.
Set in the the Midwest right after World War I, a family stays the course on their farm. Not all family members have stayed, however. Many people in this community have sought refuge in California. The community is desperate, as the dust keeps the residents miserable. Cars are ruined, farmers cannot afford food, and everything is in short supply.
The family is always looking to its leader, Major (Jon Mc Cormick), to make the decisions for the household. He is protective of his property and although he is a local yocal, he is not a foolish man. Major is a man who tells it like it is, whether you agree with it or not. His brother has left for California, taking the families money with him, or so he thinks. Major is left with people who cannot think for themselves and it is up to him to lead through these difficult times.
Randy Sharp, who wrote and directed this play, keep the characters tight throughout the performance. The use of the curtains that spanned the entire back of the stage was brilliant. Performer's were able to go in and out, back and forth, and it worked well on a very economical stage.
The play gets away from us about fifty five minutes in. I'm not really sure what the two woman in the show were, or even why they were there. Most of the great dialogue came from Major, Pints, Henry and Pogord. These men fence with one another and create most of the action.
What adds to the plays character is the lighting. David Zeffren has a mystique about the whole performance with his deft lighting design. From romantic lighting genre, he is able to capture the true essence of what this show's backbone is too be.
Karl Ruckdeschel's costumes replete with face scarfs to block the dust are excellent. Set just after World War I, he puts forth and great replica of the farmers garb.
In directing, Sharp keeps the actors locked in tightly. We never know as an audience when things will explode. Sharp keeps us on edge throughout the entire hour and fifteen minutes.
The cast, for the most part, does a very good job. The last fifteen minutes could be put in a better direction, however. Maybe a conflict with Major, Henry, and Pints would have a better result. A physical conflict in this type of play could have worked much better. Instead, the two sand baggers drive off without any explanation as to why.
'Last Man Club' runs through June 28th. It is a good play for the most part. This play is very reminiscent of the many plays that ran in the West Village throughout the 80s and 90s. It's raw, creative, and keeps the audience attentive. A lot of detail went into this show, and it was evident on how well the performance was executed.
Sam Shepard genre play, West Village, NYC,NY, Sam Shepard, Obie award, Oscar, twilight zone, "The Last Man Club", California.