nytheatre.com review by Nicholas Linnehan
August 16, 2012
It would be so easy to hate a killer right? If you think you can answer that question, go see Sean Galuszka's newest work Poison Apple. His psychological new thriller is part of the New York International Fringe Festival, and for a good reason; its a great work about the inner psyches of two men.
The play opens when Jerry drops in unexpectedly on Paul. Paul is a tightly-wound man with OCD; he's the complete opposite of Jerry, a free nomadic vagabond. The next 75 minutes is like a tension-filled match of tennis, as these two go back and forth and leave us wondering who the real "bad" guy is. But even when it's revealed, we don't get to disconnect. Galuszka brilliantly paints these two men as likable and compassionate. We never get to hate anyone, which is a tremendous feat for Galuszka. His skill is top-notch and left me feeling much like I did after seeing Edward Albee's, The Goat.
So is there a "bad" guy? Well, that's up to the audience to decide for ourselves. But in the middle of this mystery, something unexpected happens: A very weird love story unfolds between Jerry and Paul.
Christopher Sams plays Paul with stellar talent. He makes Paul funny, yet vulnerable as the piece goes on. His ability to be both likable and scary is amazing. But his honesty as Paul stands out the most. We understand his feelings of bitterness, isolation, and betrayal so well, that we fall in love with him. Galuszka plays the free-spirited yet mysterious and vague Jerry well. When these two men bare their souls and find a connection, in the most unlikely of places and circumstances, we get swelled up and root for these two to find their bliss in each others' arms.
Director Susan Lambert, understands the deep needs of love and companionship within the play and gets perfectly pitched performances from her actors. This psychological thriller paints the complex landscape of the human condition with outstanding empathy, and brutal honesty. Overall Poison Apple left me more in touch with my own humanity by the end of the play and wondering where the true poison in the proverbial apple lies.