nytheatre.com review by Kristin Skye Hoffmann
June 15, 2010
Little Doc begins with a line of coke. Then another. Another follows that. Those are washed down with whiskey, a joint or two, and a needle up an arm. That is how four friends,—Ric, Lenny, Billy, and Peggy—fill the collective voids that reside within each of them. It's how their parents did it too, not to mention the ex-con, Angelo, who is there to collect the $50K that Ric is responsible for providing. Located in an apartment above Sammy's Bar in1975 Brooklyn on a single night, this story examines the way an apple can't fall too far from the tree, no matter how much we want it to.
Ric, played with staggering believability and charisma by Adam Driver, is Peggy's lover. Joanne Tucker shines as Peggy, the estranged wife of Ric's best friend Lenny. Lenny claims to be fine with the match, citing the grand tradition of hippies everywhere. Lenny supports free love, no matter how painful it is for him. Bill Tangradi's masterful performance layers Lenny's turmoil with perfectly flawed vulnerability. Billy is their adorable man-child tag-along, interpreted with amazing specificity by Tobias Segal. The character seems to be a nod to Billy Bibbit in Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, a reference I was only certain of by the electrifying revelation at the end. Truly it is an ensemble to be reckoned with.
Ric and Peggy are planning to leave town for Aspen that night, unbeknownst to their pals. At the same time, Angelo, played by the perfectly cast Salvatore Inzerillo, has returned from prison and been hired by Sammy (Dave Tawil), the bar owner/drug dealer and Ric's childhood idol, to get the money Ric owes him. What unfolds is a tangled web that somehow manages to clearly comment on the inevitability of history repeating itself. The parallels that exist between Ric and his father, Weasel, played by Steven Marcus, are fated and familiar.
The set design by David Rockwell is a beautiful division between the bar and the modest New York apartment that lies above it. Both are perfectly 1975 but somehow look like many modern apartments I've seen, and excellently comment on the themes of the piece. Lighting design by Nicole Pearce and costumes by Clint Ramos create the seedy world with expert skill.
Dan Klores has written a period piece that is as pertinent to the youths of today as it would have been to characters about which it is written. Using beautifully realistic dialogue these characters psychoanalyze each other and attempt to fill their own personal voids from top to bottom and usually get it right. It seems that this is the night they all figure it out but it could be too late. John Gould Rubin has directed it in the best possible way, when the production is so natural you forget there even is a director. The flow and pacing of this show keep the lengthy discussions consistently engaging.
Rattlestick Theatre has once again produced a gritty, poignant drama that is well worth the price of admission.