The Red Paintball
nytheatre.com review by Richard Hinojosa
July 15, 2008
The Red Paintball is a very funny extended riff on a single bit. A self-righteous religious zealot school principal named Maxwell Morrison has been assaulted by a group of students with a paintball gun and is determined to get to the bottom of who pulled the trigger. When I say "get to the bottom," I mean that quite literally. When it is revealed that student Luke McAllister pulled the trigger, Maxwell could not be happier because he is desperately attracted to Luke and would love to show him the magic of man-boy love, but Luke resists him every step of the way. Most of the comedy in the show comes from the various tactics Maxwell attempts in his quest to nail this young man, but there are other things going on.
The play opens with five students gathered to plan their assault on the principal. One of them, Mary Simmons, is well known to be a rat but for some reason they include her anyway. Mary, of course, turns them all in for Hershey Kisses that she collects in a velvet draw-string bag like so many silver pieces given to Judas. Maxwell extracts more and more information from her by dropping more and more candy on the floor in front of her. One of the students is a pothead, another is trying to act ghetto, and the last one is in love with a school secretary who is in the room during the initial interrogation.
Playwrights Laura and Alyssa Waldron have penned a very funny short play that takes a look at self-righteous behavior gone very, very wrong. There are many snappy one-liners that will make you want to laugh and cringe at the same time. The play is essentially a one-trick pony but they make the best of that trick. The show was originally a ten-minute short and I can see how this play would be hilarious in such a tight little package. In this extended version it loses its grip on the audience here and there, but for the most part it will hold your attention to the end. The Waldrons also direct the play and they lend to it a very fast pace and lots of physical comic bits.
The cast is very good. They look as if they are having a good time and that made me want to join them. Robbie Simpson plays his role of the creeped-out school kid, Luke, perfectly, and Alyssa Schroeter hits big-time as the tattle-tale candy monster. Matthew Patane is good as the feckless pothead kid and Mary Pasquale gets some laughs as the white girl acting like she's from the 'hood. Will Szigethy is hilarious as the lovelorn school kid and Alexandra Heinen is oddly funny as the dumpy, deadpan secretary. But it is Vincent DiGeronimo as Maxwell who rules the night. He is so over the top and completely sunk into this role that he forces everyone in the house to smile and laugh even when they are shaking their heads in disgust.
The Red Paintball is a fun show. There's not much to it, but that doesn't matter because you'll have a good time laughing. And at less than an hour long it won't take up too much of your time.