to FEET for
3 GARLAND AWARD 2001 Honorable Mentions! Playwrighting
(Padraic Duffy) -- Direction (Jessie Marion)
Ensemble Performance (The Whole Cast!)
- LA TIMES
"Smart, vivacious...Artfully melds the
mood of a Christopher Durang play with the nonlinear logic of a Monty Python
skit...Rife with arch humor...Boasting crisp-to-perfection performances!"
- LA WEEKLY RECOMMENDED!
"To simultaneously laugh and think is
an odd sensation for an audience, but it's inevitable here...A
world that is so off-kilter it's the purest form of reality!"
- BACKSTAGE WEST CRITICS PICK!
On the Sacred Fools Mainstage March 15th - April 14th, 2001 Thur, Fri & Sat at 8pm Tickets: $15 Reservations: (310) 281-8337
Produced by Rik Keller & Denise Barnard
Assistant Director - Bryan Bellomo
And Featuring... Tina Ballabio, Mauri Bernstein, Tom Chalmers, Tabatha Hall,
Victor Isaac, Dean Jacobson, Corey Klemow, Ashley Leonard,
Linda Miller, John Prince, Ruth Silveira, Casey Smith, Scott Stein
WEEKLY (Recommended!) - Click on the photo for
a larger version & credits -
There’s nothing flat
about Padraic Duffy’s smart, vivacious comedy, which artfully melds the
mood of a Christopher Durang play with the nonlinear logic of a Monty
Python skit. Rife with arch humor and inventive notions, Feet is,
at times, maddeningly random — but in a droll sort of way. Boasting
crisp-to-perfection performances, director Jessie Marion’s tightly
choreographed staging delights and enervates, even when it defies easy
summary. A tyrannical Sunday school teacher (Linda Miller) sadistically
strives to keep order among her naughty 10-year-old students, who discuss
feces and Platonic philosophy with equal gusto. Shy, Shakespeare-spouting
Spencer (Corey Klemow) finds himself rivals with his best friend,
hyperactive pup Petey (Tom Chalmers), for the affection of gawky new girl
Susannah (Tabatha Hall). Meanwhile, Susannah’s decidedly weird father
(John Prince) is inexplicably desperate to procure milk from a man in a
cow suit (Casey Smith). Midway through Act 2, the surreal incidents and
fever pitch falter a bit, as some situations lack emotional depth, with
the admittedly trivial plot starting to feel artificially extended and
spun out. Still, Marion’s assured staging never flags. Hall’s
sniffling Susannah, Chalmer’s twitchy Petey, Smith’s snide Cow and
Miller’s terrifying teacher also enthrall.
To simultaneously laugh and
think is an odd sensation for an audience, but it's inevitable here, as
Padraic Duffy's world premiere play takes a potent look at language, makes
a sweet study of the heart, and perceptively seems to conclude that the
two don't always work together. The play's rhetorical delights include
associative humor and multilevel visual puns: Imagine a composite of Under
Milkwood, Waiting for Godot, The Memorandum, and The Life of Brian.
Director Jessie Marion offers a coherent vision of a world that is so
off-kilter it's the purest form of reality. In it, we are introduced to a
Sunday school teacher (Linda Miller), who teaches secular philosophy
rather than religion. "How do we name things?" the teacher
queries. That which makes a something something can be found within that
something, she explains. She assigns the class homework: Bring in what a
cow is. This sets in motion a series of interrelated stories; meanwhile
the audience very well may be pondering the legalese of ex-President
Clinton's attorneys: Much of our understanding depends on what
The teacher's son, Spencer (Corey Klemow), is teacher's pet, largely
because he's a good boy but also because he speaks only in exquisite
rhyming iambic pentameter. He is a dreamer. His classmate Petey (Tom
Chalmers) is a doer. And between them comes Susannah (Tabatha Hall), an
allergic reaction on roller skates, who glides and sniffles her way into
their hearts. Susannah's father, a businessman named Phil Fuller (John
Prince), likes to feel breasts, is obsessed with milk, and has just bought
a farm. And on this farm he has a Cow (a very tall Casey Smith), and Cow's
best friend, Chipmunk (a very petite Mauri Bernstein). But Cow needs
grass, and Phil has just noticed the usefulness of Jack (Victor Isaac), a
black man sporting a tall green flattop (someone has taken a leaf from The
Lion King's book).
Marion extracts abundant energy and intelligence from her actors, as well
as uninhibited silliness-particularly in a slip-and-fall dance by Cow.
None of the actors does youngster better than Dean Jacobson does:
Oblivious to his appearance, he wears his backpack on his head, chews its
strap, and finds creative ways to sit. Miller works at a near-maniacal
level, playing fury to its funniest extent. Chalmers and Ashley West
Leonard, as Lulu, wickedly capture the essence of "bad" kids in
the class; Hall and Klemow fill their young characters with gentle
sweetness and innocent wonderment. Tina Ballabio plays Kimberly-who says
only "please" and "thank you," which does not
necessarily a nice child make-almost entirely via her expressive eyes. And
Prince plays an uptight businessman while Ruth Silveira plays the painful
disciplined principal until we want to shake them.
The deceptively simple set designed by John Douglas Williams is created
with painted rehearsal boxes and drop cloths. Sound design by Haynes
Brooke helps delineate city from country. Lighting design by John Prince
is part childlike fantasy and part beauty-filled nature, and costume
design by Silveira provides ample visual cues to the characters.
The title of Padraic Duffy's whimsical
comedy "Feet," at Sacred Fools Theatre, refers to a
measure of linguistic rhythm and to the physical appendages. In both
cases, the word suggests the power to take us on journeys.
The Sacred Fools company jumps wholeheartedly into Duffy's quirky
world--where a young boy (Corey Klemow) can speak only in iambic
pentameter, a man (Victor Isaac) sprouts grass on his head, a
self-proclaimed boy cow (Casey Smith) talks, and children in the class of
an overbearing Sunday school teacher (Linda Miller) get punished for
speaking about God.
A businessman (John Prince) brings these people together when he begins
spending weekends in the country. There he pressures his cow to give milk.
The cow's best friend, a chipmunk (Mauri Bernstein), almost tells the man
that male bovines aren't for milking but they do make great burgers.
There's no mention of "mad cow" disease, but there is one mad
and desperate cow searching for milk.
The boys in the class vie for the businessman's daughter, Susannah (Tabatha
Hall), who glides on roller skates while sniffling as a result of hay
Director Jessie Marion deftly defines this topsy-turvy world with Shannon
Quaschnick and John Douglas Williams' simple set and backdrop curtains.
Items such as trees and rocks are labeled as in a first-grade classroom.
The chemistry between Smith's cow and Bernstein's chipmunk makes for great
comedy. Standouts among the actors portraying the squirmy children are
Ashley West Leonard as a sexually precocious 10-year-old, Tom Chalmers as
the overeager Petey, and Dean Jacobson as a boy who sports his backpack on
his head and shoulders to imagine himself a bush hog.
Duffy's trifle seems to be about labels, with delirious references to
"The Lion King" (a man with a grass crew cut and a boy
pretending to be a hog). But while we have fun getting where we're going,
we're not sure why he took us there.
urgent e-mail from a critic colleague warned that a small-theater gem was
being overlooked, and pleaded for consideration as this week's review. She
was right. Padraic Duffy's "Feet," which, alas, runs only two
more shows (today and Saturday), is a breathtakingly funny, superbly
absurd ride through themes that pop up like figures along the twists and
corners in a theme park ride.
is given legs by a keenly attuned and directed (by Jessie Marion) Sacred
Fools Theater Company cast. What it is all about may depend on each
viewer. One take: Duffy appears to explore, in a Monty Python-esque
manner, the way maps- be they philosophical, religious, poetic, or pages
out of a Thomas Guide - point us in a viable direction, but are not to be
confused with actual realities we find along the way. As the character
Susannah shows us- we only get somewhere when we finally put our feet
firmly on the ground.
that's just one idea.
to Susannah. She is played by Tabatha Hall, who shines amid an already
consistently delightful cast. Hall shows great comic skills in the role,
while portraying the shifting moods, expressions, and awareness of a
enters a Sunday School taught by a demented Aristotelian teacher (Linda
Miller) trying to impose logic that is over the heads of a squirming class
on the cusp of early sexual awakening.
There's nerdy Francis (Scott Stein),
precocious Lulu (Ashley West Leonard, whose over-the-top MAD TV
performance actually works here), Spanky (Dean Jacobson), dreamy Spencer
(Corey Klemow), Petey (Tom Chalmers), kleptomaniac Kimberly who speaks
only three words: "please, thank you" (Tina Ballabio). At
Susannah's farm home, her father (John Prince) is trying to get milk from
a guy who lives there, wearing a cow suit (Casey Smith), supported by his
friend the oh so cut chipmunk (Mauri Bernstein). Dad hires an out- of-work
janitor, with tall green grass for hair (Victor Isaac), to get the cow to
produce. It's a show to be seen more than once, because so much happens,
so fast. But there's only two chances left to see it all.