Writer: Joshua Young
Director: Lucia Bellini
Reviewer: Adrienne Sowers
Reality and comic book fantasy blur into one another in Joshua Young’s Who Mourns for Bob the Goon?, as a group of people who believe they are third-tier comic book characters meet for their support group. Helmed by Lucia Bellini, this production aspires to heroic brilliance but fails to save itself from its own pitfalls.
The concept is inventive and compelling. A group of war veterans usesuperhero identities as a coping mechanism for PTSD, which allows for a fantastical, somewhat comedic spin on the trauma of military service. There are puppet-fueled dream sequences, with puppets brilliantly designed by James Ortiz, and the play takes place against alternating gritty and comic-panel backdrops. There are moments of genuine connection and struggle, particularly from Alex Teachy as Bob, Matt Mingle as Artie, and LaGina Hill as Sybil. Itis a compelling story set against a beautifully-designed visual world, and containing moments of honest humor and poignancy.
However, this productionisa bit loose around the edges. One can sense moments of lagging action or lack of specificity that drive the audience to lose attention and focus. Scene changes last for a few minutes each, easily adding ten to twelve minutes to the performance. Additionally, the script itself runs longand needsa trim to ensure that it keeps the audience engagedas it fulfills its promise. Considering the demands of this piece, with several tricks and twists (including a superfluousWizard of Oz tie-in), even the most adept cast will struggle to maintain the required energy to sustain so many moving parts.
Perhaps with a bit more time, Who Mourns for Bob the Goon? will find its way to victory as a captivating and enlightening theatrical experience. In its current incarnation, though, this castgives a heroic effort but the production falls short of blockbuster success.
Runs until 13 August 2016 | Image: Steven Pisano