Wednesday, June 20, 2012

"A Behanding in Spokane" ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

Just look at that picture. You've got Daveed Diggs and Melissa Quine handcuffed to the radiator pipes, creepy Rod Gnapp climbing in a window, with his performance-honed lunatic gaze, and don't forget the gasoline can with the gas-soaked rag holding the lit candle which will most likely blow the place to smithereens.

Note also that Carmichael (Gnapp) has only one hand. This is not an accident.

Then we meet Mervyn the desk clerk (Alex Hurt). He's every bit as wacked out as Carmichael, but Mervyn is oblivious. Carmichael knows his quest is loony, and Toby (Diggs) and Marilyn (Quine) realize they are small-time hoods. But Mervyn -- dear Mervyn. There aren't 52 cards in the deck between all of these goofballs, and that's why we love "A Behanding in Spokane" so much. Seeing it at San Francisco Playhouse feels like coming home for Christmas. These are the types of shows that have made the theater's reputation. Weird, wild, wacky and wonderful.

We really love Daveed Diggs. Every time we see him (he was so good in "Jesus Hopped the A Train") he jumps out and steals the show. In "Behanding," we can't help but hope he gets out of this pickle. (It's too bad about that busted speed deal though.) He's also about to get his head blown off. Maybe. That man with the gas can is capable of anything.

The cast of four is perfect and Susi Damilano's direction keeps us hopping from surprise to surprise. Like other Martin McDonagh plays there are plenty of body parts flying around. Can you imagine a food fight using severed limbs?

Lots of swearing. Lots of n-word. Lots of f-word, and m-f word. And the King of the Monkeys. What's not to love?

RATINGS: ☼  ☼  ☼  ☼

The San Francisco Theater Blog Awards Division awards "A Behanding in Spokane" Four happy, gloopy stars. The four actors split three stars and the writer, director and clean-up crew share the last one. 

Favorite lines: Mervyn: "You're barking up the wrong alley." 
Carmichael (talking to his Mom) "Aw, Mom! That doesn't mean I'm not a racist!"

The show is recommended for mature audiences. We wouldn't let any of these clowns in.


"A Behanding in Spokane"
San Francisco Playhouse
533 Sutter Street, San Francisco
Through June 30

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