Quick Hits: "Rumors," "Gin Game," and "Two Old Black Guys Just Sitting Around Talking"

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Gin's a Tonic

What do you get when you mix a dynamite husband and wife team like Jim and Jo-Lynne Palmer with a dynamite script like The Gin Game? Fireworks, that's what. That's pretty much all I'm saying about this one for now. A fuller review of this Pulitzer Prize-winning play will appear on this blog mid-week. 

In case you don't know, The Gin Game's about a couple of nursing home patients who get to know a little too much about one another over cards. Dark comedy with that nursing home smell.

The Gin Game: Through Oct. 4 at
Theatre Memphis

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Rumors
Doesn't Have It


Love him or hate him you have to admire Neil Simon's craftsmanship. The guy knows how to write comedy. Farce, on the other hand, I'm not so sure. 

Full disclosure: I've never liked Rumors. But goodness knows I've tried to. I've suffered through it four or five times at least, and always with an open mind. The play's action is rooted in a very human trait, and one that interests me deeply: Love of a good story. Never once— other than a "too little too late" twist in the closing moments— does the show live up to its pedigree, or its promise. 

The plot, such as it is: A fancypants party is spoiled when guests arrive to discover the hostess and servants gone, and the host shot and mostly unconscious, but in no danger of losing more than an ear lobe. Nobody knows exactly and wild speculation results in wild antics. The big problem: In order to suspend one's disbelief and enjoy, we have to allow that the characters on stage are all incredibly stupid. And not just mildly so either. They are stupid to the point of being reprehensible. 

GCT Director Jason Spitzer hasn't given his show much in the way of dynamics. It's a shoutfest. The volume starts somewhere around 11 or 12 and it's never turned down. So too the breakneck pace. 

The cast's got  lot of heart, and there's some nice character work happening behind all that loudness. But to what end?

Rumors is at Germantown Community Theatre through Sept. 27

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Old School

Two Old Black Guys Just Sitting Around Talking is exactly that. It's about two old guys who allegedly don't like each other just sitting around talking. With its park bench setting and semi-absurd tone, the comedy is reminiscent of many other shows. Zoo Story, Waiting for Godot, and I'm Not Rappaport all come to mind, though Black Guys it's never quit as substantial as any of that. Most viewers will be able predict the play's trajectory by the end of scene one making the journey the destination. 

Posted by Bluff City Tri-Art Theatre Company on Monday, September 14, 2015

T.C. Sharpe and J.S. Tate are top notch actors and fun to watch as they fuss at one another and spin their yarns. In their hands, and with the help of director Ruby O'Gray, an interesting counter-narrative emerges. Gender roles and expectations are explored as two old guys who both dated the same woman come to understand that they are, for all intents and purposes, an old married couple. They may not like it, but that's just how it is. 

Gus Edward's script has its moments but could stand a serious haircut. There's a much better and more focused one act play lurking in there somewhere. 

Bluff City Tri-Arts Theatre presents Two Old Black Guys Just Sitting Around Talking. At TheatreWorks through Sept. 27. 


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