Sunday, June 25, 2017

Black comedy, “An Impending Rupture of The Belly,” insights at none-too-fragile

Matt Pelfrey is noted for inventing oddball concepts and writing sardonic dialogue. His “An Impending Rupture of the Belly,” now on stage at none-too-fragile, is Pelfrey at his “creative” black comedy best.

Clay Stilts is paranoid.  He constantly worries.  He obsesses about nuclear terrorism, earthquakes, riots, small pox, and impending fatherhood.  If something might happen, he marks it for fear incitement.

Clay is also blessed with a slacker brother, Ray, an unsuccessful musician, who believes that Clay has copped-out by living in the burbs and has a 9 to 5 job.  This, of course, doesn’t stop Ray from mooching off his brother.

Clay’s insecurities are fanned by his co-worker, Eugene, a Trumpite who proudly proclaims his chauvinistic, alpha-male attitudes including beliefs regarding the necessity of a white macho male dominated society, free of gays, blacks and other minorities. 

After numerous verbal confrontations with his neighbor whose dog likes to poop on Clay’s immaculately manicured front lawn, Clay follows Eugene’s advice, takes matters beyond the verbal and attacks the animal.  Of course he does!  That’s what any “macho” male should do to protect his territory.  What follows is an “actual threat” to Clay and his wife.

The script is a perfect metaphor for today’s explosive political climate.  And, though the audience laughs at Clay’s ridiculousness, it is the not taking the Eugenes of this country seriously, that may well have led to Trump’s election.

Sean Derry has pulled it off once again.  none-too-fragile’s production, as has become the trend at this venue, is of high quality.  The pace is enveloping, the laughs nicely keyed, and the ridiculousness kept under control causing a thinking rather than escapist reaction.

Filled with nervous ticks, stammering, darting eyes and rigid posture, Andrew Narten is paranoid-believable as Clay.  

Benjamin Gregorio steals the show as Clay’s doped-out brother, Ray, who appears in dirty tighty-whities, urinates on stage, and rants, while his crazed wide-eyes signal as out-of-control beacons, “danger here.”

Why the costumer didn’t perch a red Trump cap on Eugene is a surprise.  He is a Trump clone presenting message and attitude, complete alternate facts.

Kelly Strand nicely develops Terri, Clay’s wife, as an angel of strength for putting up with her husband’s rantings.

Much to the audience’s delight, Brian Jackson “feys” his way as Doug, the dog owner who has found Clay’s Achilles heel.

Capsule judgement: “An Impending Rupture of the Belly,” which gets a fine production, should be seen by anyone interested in experiencing outstanding acting coupled with a challenging and thought-provoking script.

ATTENTION:  July 7 and 8 @ 4, none too fragile will stage “Sea’s Night,” a special production of “An Impending Rupture of the Belly.”  The theatre is encouraging patrons, family and caregivers of special needs people, including Rett Syndrome, to attend the special performances.  All profits will benefit the Rett Syndrome Research Trust.  (Call the theatre for details.)

For tickets to “An Impending Rapture of the Belly,” which runs through July 8, 2017 at none too fragile theatre, located at 2835 Merriman Road in Akron, call 330-962-5547 or go to

Next up:  none too fragile takes a summer break in its 2017 season for the months or July and August, returning on September 15 with “Last of the Boys,” Steven Dietz’s examination of identities and memories of the past, especially of the Vietnam War.