ME, THE DEVIL AND OTHER FRIENDS
nytheatre.com review by Codie Fitch
BackStage Theatre Company‘s Me, The Devil and Other Friends
is an attempt to bring Greek Tragedy into the urban arena. Three
years ago, Chicago playwright Fannon Holland approached director
Melissa Young with three scenes; they have been developed into
this current production. The play’s multiple locations and
numerous scenes provide a dark view of today’s society and what
it is that drives the human condition and relationships. Dude
(Aaron Graham) is doomed to live his life over and over again in
a bar simply called "Dive," forced to examine his choices
repeatedly, and tortured by the irreversible effects of their
outcome. A chorus of characters including an all powerful
bartender (Sara Sevigny), a Heckel & Jeckyl team of potheads
named Mick and Mack (Mark Konold and Fannon Holland), a
porn-loving priest (John Luzar), a performance artist/activist
Black Lady (Vallea E. Woodbury), a homeless man called Mr. Swing
(Tracy Livingston), a maniacal drug dealer, Thomas (Rob Smith),
and Dude’s over-accommodating girlfriend Carrie (Sara Oliva) all
seem to have been dragged down to partake in a reenactment of
Dude’s less than impressive life.
August 15, 2003
As inventive and clever as the story is, it lacks clarity. The number of scenes, each titled on a screen center stage, keep the evening rolling at a radical pace, but I found myself stumbling into each location not exactly sure where we were or why we were there. I was left feeling that the playwright tried to do too much without fully developing each archetype into a character. There was often a feeling of listening to an inside joke or anecdote that I didn’t have the pleasure of knowing.
Nevertheless, the dialogue is intelligent and there are a lot of witfully humorous moments. A particular highlight is a performance by Vallea E. Woodbury in a spoken word section of the play wherein her character Black Lady performs "…sick and tired" with true expertise and inspiration.
Although it has a dark outlook on humanity and our relationships to one another, Me, The Devil and Other Friends, will leave you pondering your own choices and ability to make something of your own life. I would hope that BackStage Theatre Company continues its work together and we see more of Fannon Holland’s work in the very near future!