SACRED FOOLS | DARK NIGHT SERIES 2007 - The Gas House  

sacred fools theater company presents...

a west coast premiere

by william donnelly

directed by
suzanne karpinski

sept 25 - oct 31, 2007
tues-weds @ 8pm

Former celebrity shock jock Don Berlin has lost his job, lost his wife, and lost a lot of money to his bookie.  Faced with a bottle of pills, a good bet gone bad and his wife's unexpected return, Berlin has to figure out how to keep going when talking isn't enough.
With wit and desperation, Donnelly, whose "genuine gift for making likable, interesting, realistic characters... whets our appetites for future Donnelly productions" [Martin Denton, NYtheatre.com], maps the relationship between two creative people, and the intentional and unintentional traumas they inflict on each other.
starring supatra hanna
& marc jablon as "don berlin"
tickets - $10
(oct 31 halloween - pay what you can!)
call 310-281-8337
or buy tickets online
producer- jaime andrews
stage manager - nicole rillorta
sound design - suzanne karpinksi
lighting design - emily eudy
postcard design - jaime andrews
 

reviews

backstage west

...this carefully constructed tale of self-destruction crosses all its technical T's and, in its West Coast premiere, has considerable talents providing heat on stage...

Suzanne Karpinski directs the very charismatic Marc Jablon and an equally compelling Supatra Hanna. As the curtain rises we meet Jablon's Don Berlin after an all-nighter, and we soon find out that he loves to talk and that he's an asshole -- both of which served him well on talk radio -- but that his former celebrity status is completely down the toilet. Also of no surprise is that he's got a gambling habit, drinks too much, liberally pops prescription pills, is writing a terrible screenplay, and is sorry that he royally screwed up his marriage. When the once-wife (Hanna) enters his now-trashed dwelling, we learn -- through not only their conversations but also via flashbacks and by listening to his radio broadcasts -- that he's a guilt-ridden, drinking, pill-popping, gambler with an awful screenplay. And that he's an asshole with no career. Who still loves to talk.

...Jablon and Hanna are highly skilled and totally watchable -- although Jablon may be a tad too clean-cut for his bad-boy role. Karpinski certainly helps to make their connection palpable.

...the clever playwright throws us stuff that makes us sit up and take notice...

jennie webb
© 2007 backstage west

l.a. weekly

It's a tribute to the charm, talent and passion of Jablon and Hanna, and the skill of director Suzanne Karpinsky, who also provides effective sound design, that eventually we do care about these people.

neal weaver
© 2007 l.a. weekly

l.a. stagescene

What begins as a solo performance by a recently fired talk radio “shock jock” who was “paid to be a jerk” soon turns into an affecting two person play about a doomed romantic relationship in Sacred Fools’ West Coast Premiere of William Donnelly’s The Gas House.

The production, which stars TV’s electric Marc Jablon (recently recurring on E.R.) and features a lovely supporting turn by Supatra Hanna, has been effectively directed by Suzanne Karpinski, and is running on Tuesdays and Wednesday (concurrent with the mainstage production of Drood).

The use of Drood’s Chinese restaurant/opium den-like set, modified to resemble failed radio DJ Don Berlin’s mess of an apartment, lends a distinctively quirky tone to the proceedings, which begin with Berlin making excuses to the audience for his job loss. “Radio’s not my thing. I’m really an actor,” he tells us, though soon, in a great monolog (or soliloquy—he can’t decide which) he informs us that he’s writing a screenplay with the improbable title Dead Pain, which features a smuggler named “Spimoza.” The screenplay is far from finished, however. Berlin spurns the use of a computer, his pen is out of ink, and he breaks the pencil lead as soon as he begins writing. He’s the kind of loveable loser we want to see succeed yet whose capacity for success we sincerely doubt.

We soon meet his beautiful estranged wife Adria. Both Berlin and Adria clearly still care for each other, yet we can see why their relationship has gone on the rocks. She wants to talk, but he refuses to be engaged in conversation, explaining “that’s what I do for a living.” (After all, who wants to take his work home with him?) Adria is a published poet, which Berlin finds an odd occupation, “like a knight or a smithy.” At the same time, we see that her success as a writer irks him, one of many reasons why these two people can’t be together; it’s just too much work. Adria tells Berlin, “You can’t hurt me anymore. I don’t have the patience. I don’t have the capacity.” And though he is hoping for a reconciliation, she just wants him to move on. “Elephants grieve, but they go on living,” she tells him.

Jablon gives a fiery performance as a man jobless and alone, who misses his wife now in the same way she missed him during their marriage, when he was gone eighteen to twenty-four hours a day. Jablon has the “shock jock” brand of sarcastic humor down pat, but he reveals layers of pain beneath the couldn’t-care-less exterior, little by little letting his guard down and revealing vulnerability. Jablon’s costar Hanna gives a strong and touching performance as a woman who cares enough for Berlin to tell him sincerely, “I’m not here for you to be with. I’m sorry,” but not enough to return to this man who left her alone most of the time. “I was here,” she tells him now. “Where were you?”

Playwright Donnelly understands his two characters’ need for each other despite their inability to find happiness in their relationship. He has written two complex roles, which Jablon and Hanna bring vividly to life, and a stunning double whammy of an ending. Producer Jaime Andrews played Adria in the New York production, and we can thank her for introducing L.A. audiences to this brief (about 75 minutes running time) but powerful look at a couple for whom love was not enough.

steven stanley
© 2007 l.a. stagescene