September 9, 2005
It's a bird, it's a plane
It's hilarious but twisted view of family life
Cleveland--Scientists have finally uncovered the actual reason the dinosaurs all died out. It was a lack of quality recreational activities.
For the herbivores, munching on trees is fine, and for the carnivores, munching on herbivores is fine, but that gets old pretty quickly. What is a triceratops to do in its free time? Where can an ankylosaurus go for a stimulating evening of theater?
Well, one could suggest Pterodactyls by Nicky Silver, the latest production by Convergence-Continuum. Of course, being 30 feet long, the poor thing might have trouble making it through the door, and none of the seats would comfortably accommodate a tuchus that large.
Nicky Silver is one of the most subversive gay playwrights working today. His families are dysfunctional, to say the least, and he draws a dramaturgical line in the sand that he invariably crosses. Pterodactyls is no exception.
The Duncan family is a mess. Father Arthur (Wes Shofner) is a philandering banker who is asked to resign under circumstances upon which he refuses to elaborate. His wife Grace (Lauri Hammer) is a pampered alcoholic, hitting the Grey Goose so early and so often that the bird should be in a battered waterfowl shelter.
Their children are not exactly well-balanced, either.
Emma (Jovana Batkovic) is, well, crazy, or at least within walking distance of it. Phantom pains and cramps and a memory like a steel sieve prove that repression is a powerful thing, and denial is more than just a river in Egypt.
Her fianc�, Tommy McKorcle (Jd Bowman) is an orphan who was raised by nuns and broken in by priests. Emma wants Tommy to save her, to help her escape from her parents� home, but things go horribly awry with the return of her brother Todd (Brian Breth).
Todd was away for five years, long enough that Emma has forgotten him. Of course, Emma forgets things that happened five minutes ago, so that�s not a surprise.
Mama Duncan is thrilled to have her son back, her darling baby boy. For the purposes of clarity, let�s just call her Mrs. Oedipus. It never happens, but it�s still creepy.
Anyway, she is overjoyed by Todd�s return until he finally yells loudly enough to register his news in her pickled brain: he has AIDS. He then takes much time and drama explaining to his family that he is not dying, that he will, in fact, outlive all of them.
Todd makes himself at home, which makes sense since it is his home, proceeding to dig up and reconstruct a dinosaur skeleton he unearthed in the back yard.
Meanwhile, his mother distracts herself from her son�s possible demise by preparing for her daughter�s wedding to the young man she now has working for her as her maid. However, when the maid gets a lesson in the art of seduction from his would-be brother-in-law, the entire tapestry of the family, already fraying about the edges, starts to really unravel.
Silver�s play is, in turns, absurdist, hilarious and deeply disturbing. It is You Can�t Take It With You on crystal meth, a twisted view of the nuclear family from the man who seems to regard it as radioactive and carcinogenic, so of course it�s fun.
Convergence-Continuum likes to run counter to the prevailing winds, running much of its season in spring and summer as opposed to fall and winter. It is nice to see it going so gay for this production. Gay writer, gay themes, gay director (Clyde Simon, one of the evil geniuses behind the theater). There is even some hot guy-on-guy action. Okay, �hot� might not be the word for it, but it�s there, and it�s not to be missed.
Pterodactyls by Nicky Silver opens on Friday, September 9, and runs Thursday through Saturday until October 8. Performances are at 8 pm, and tickets are $12, $9 for students and seniors. The production is at the Liminis, 2438 Scranton Rd., just south of Kenilworth in Cleveland�s Tremont area. For tickets and information, call 216-6870074 or go to www.covergence-continuum.org.