Before We’re Gone
a play by Jerry Small
13th Street Repertory Theater Company
Directed by Joe John Battista
July 19, 2018
This is a muddle from start to finish, laced with clichéd language and performances. The “action” shifts between a California motel room and a hotel room in Reno, Nevada, centering around Kate Maguire, a hugely successful playwright. At least we’re told she’s successful: how anyone who says things like “you have to write what is cut into your own heart” can write well beats me. Kate isn’t the only caricature in this work: Richard, the too-naïve- to- be- true A/C repair man who yearns to write plays and struggles with being a seminarian studying for the priesthood, and Rich’s father/Kate’s agent/Kate’s long-time squeeze and—hold on, it’s true—an actual Father complete with brown robe and rope belt are equally one dimensional. Kate is played by attractive Leenya Rideout; Rich by John Zdrojeski and the others by Jay Russell. Emily Juliette Murphy handles small roles as Kate’s mother, a motel clerk and a waiter.
In Act One, we learn that Kate has registered under a false name as she’s dealing with terminal brain cancer and has come here to take her own life. The total opposite of “show don’t tell,” we watch Kate talk on the phone with her long-time agent and friend spelling out the details. She’s interrupted by a knock on her door from Rich, the repairman she hasn’t seen in twenty-five years. Act Two starts just after reunited Kate and Rich have had an intense bout of sex, unusual for a terminally ill person to say the least. This segues into a mish-mash of backstory involving a house in Martha’s Vineyard where Kate croons to spiders, a Ferris wheel, and Kate agonizing over the death of her parents when she was a young girl.
Nothing rings true from the labored script to the clunky performances. (In fairness, Mr. Russell does a decent job but, except for one short bit as Kate’s lover, he doesn’t have much to do). The play is filled with empty words and angst. Why select never having seen a bagel to explain Rich’s lack of worldliness? Why have Kate tell us she’s ravenously hungry and then ignore the meal that room service has delivered? There are many other overwrought situations but I’ll skip them. Let’s just say that Kate’s demise doesn’t come a moment too soon.
Early on, Kate tells Rich that his play needs work. Not as much as this one.
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The 13th Street Repertory Company, founded in 1972 by Artistic Director Edith O’Hara, provides a place for actors, directors, playwrights and technicians to develop their craft in a caring, nurturing, professional environment.
TSRC founder, Edith O’Hara, has received commendations for her work from luminaries including former NYC Mayor Bloomberg, NYS Governor Cuomo, First Lady Michelle Obama and President Barack Obama.