Sunday, January 20, 2008

2 Man Kidnapping Rule

Disappointing opening at Fourth Wall Productions’ new venue

After giving Fourth Wall Productions’ ‘MALICIOUS BUNNY’ several Times Theatre Tributes last season, including one for Outstanding Play, I was looking forward to seeing ‘2 MAN KIDNAPPING RULE,’ the theatre’s first production of its second season.

Unfortunately, my positive expectations were dashed.

Joseph Gallo’s ‘2 MAN KIDNAPPING RULE’ is a sophomoric script, obsessed with redundant sexual commentary, sexual innuendos and excessive references to body parts, for no obvious reason. In a well-developed piece of writing such references have a purpose in moving the plot forward. In ‘2 MAN KIDNAPPING RULE’ they appear to be included for titillation and the author implying “I’m young and hip and can say whatever I want, and young hip members of the audience will love it.”

My view of the script may be a minority evaluation. According to the program, Gallo’s play had a reading at the Soho Think Tank in New York and was “really well-received.” (I have no idea who received it “well” as that wasn’t explained.)

Even if the script had been sterling, the level of directing, and much of the acting, left much to be desired.

The director, in his self-proclaimed directorial debut, did little to help the audience gain the intent and purpose of the writer. (Maybe he, like me, couldn’t figure out what Gallo was trying to tell the viewer.) The pacing was inconsistent, there was little action, some of the acting sounded like unexpressive statements of memorized lines, and the casting was confusing. Two of the three men were supposed to have been former college football players. One was a winner of the Heisman Trophy as the best collegiate player in the country, the other received a tryout with a pro team. Unfortunately, the Heisman winner looked like an undersized college freshman and the pro player more like a cross-country runner. Moral: if a show requires certain physical types, and you don’t have them available, don’t do the show. You can’t fake required physical descriptions.

Of the three actors, only Nate Bigger had the acting chops to make his character’s lines consistently believable.

Capsule judgement: If Fourth Wall is going to be taken seriously as a viable theatre it has to chose scripts that deserve production and stage them in a way that makes audiences want to return. They need to do more ‘MALICIOUS BUNNY’-type productions. They’ve proven they are capable of that level of excellence. Let’s hope in the future they return to that level.

‘2 MAN KIDNAPPING RULE’ is being staged by Fourth Wall Productions at their new home, Suite 221, the Enterprise Center of Glenville, through January 27. For tickets call 330-283-2442 or visit