nytheatre.com review by Roger Nasser
February 13, 2009
They say that you can see the Fresh Kills landfill from outer space, but luckily you don't have to travel that far to see Working Man's Clothes Productions' new show Fresh Kills. Fresh Kills is part of their Lost Works Series and it is making its American debut.
The story revolves around Eddie, a middle-aged man, married to lovely wife, Marie and father to a six-year-old boy. Eddie has become curious and started talking to a boy over the Internet. Things become very complicated when Arnold, a troubled teenager, wants to take their cyber-relationship to the next level. Eddie really wants no part of it but Arnold is relentless and tries to push the issue. The two meet and park at the Fresh Kills dump. Eddie is extremely uncomfortable and Arnold manipulates the situation to try to get closer to Eddie. He calls Eddie at home and eventually shows up at the house and meets Marie. Arnold says that Eddie is his "big brother" which makes Marie happy. Marie sees it as a way of giving back to the community. The situation becomes very bleak for Eddie when in a last attempt to try to get Arnold to leave him and his family alone, Arnold becomes very sexual with Eddie—at the same time that police sirens are heard.
Upon entering the intimate theater space at 59E59, I was amazed by the set. David Ogle has done a very impressive job with his set design. It's as if the audience is sitting in Eddie's garage. The theater has been transformed into a garage with a work station. There is an actual truck in the center of the playing area—this is where most of the action takes place. Also impressive are the stacks of boxes and garbage above the set, representing the Fresh Kills dump. The lighting design by Jake Platt is also fantastic. It works very well with the set to differentiate the indoor and outdoor scenes.
The cast does an amazing job bringing these characters to life. Robert Funaro gives a stellar performance as Eddie. Eddie is a very complex character, dealing with his family obligations and his carnal desires, and Funaro deals with all of it with ease and extreme honesty. He also has great chemistry with all of the other actors in the show. Therese Plummer is outstanding as Marie, Eddie's wife who wants a place of her own. She has great presence—I also loved the way she and Eddie relate to one another. Jared Culverhouse is awesome as Nick, Eddie's best friend and Marie's brother. Culverhouse brings a real believability to his role and his relationship with the other characters. He also supplies a lot of levity in his scenes. Todd Flaherty does an impressive job as the troubled teenager Arnold, though I felt that he wasn't as invested in what was going on as the other characters in the show. That being said I enjoyed Flaherty's performance, especially in the second act when the stakes were raised.
Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder has written a very interesting play. Fresh Kills gives a very different point of view from other shows dealing with these issues. I liked that the main character, Eddie, who would normally be the victimizer, was actually the victim (to a certain extent). The plot is at times a bit predictable and almost borders on being like a "movie of the week." I also felt that the resolution came too quickly and I thought that it should have ended a bit differently. However, I did really enjoy the play for the most part.
Isaac Byrne did a fine job directing the piece. I also like the intimacy of the space—it was as if you were right there with the characters as the story was unfolding. At times, though, the staging is a bit crowded and in one particular scene the cast is facing upstage and therefore the actors have their backs to us the entire scene. It was a very important scene in the play and I wanted to see the actors' faces.
All in all, Fresh Kills is definitely worth seeing. The cast is truly amazing.