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A BEHANDING IN SPOKANE
By
May 12, 2017, 18:56
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Through May 27
A BEHANDING IN SPOKANE American Repertory Theater of WNY/330 Amherst Street

Martin McDonagh has moved from sad tales of Ireland to sad tales of the U.S., now with his “A Behanding in Spokane” on the ART stage.
This is Sam Shepard country, a loser couple in a dingy hotel somewhere, who are dealing with a guy who has lost one hand.
They are also dealing with the loser receptionist in the hotel.
Candice Kogut as Marilyn and Shabar Rouse as Toby are the couple who are always looking for the main chance and they know there is this guy looking for a disconnected human hand.
The plot makes little sense and even the severed hands don’t make a lot of sense.
No, this show is worth seeing because Thomas LaChiusa’s Carmichael is such a strong performance, a hard man who lost a hand to a group of hillbillies who put his arm on a railroad track just as a train was coming.
We never do find out why the hillbillies and why they did what they did.
Carmichael is the kind of guy who shoots before he’s absolutely sure why.
While Marilyn and Toby are pretty visible, they are second raters in the bad people field.
Carmichael is right up there and nearly as disturbed is Mervyn the receptionist (Nick Lama).
He’s the kind of guy who carries around a picture of a monkey as his best friend.
He’s also into running the front counter in his underwear.
McDonagh puts a lot of humor into this scene with Mervyn trying to make himself look good to Toby and Marilyn, one of the flashes of humor he throws into what can be a downer of a tale.
This is a script filled with unanswered questions, fine here because things move along so quickly under Matthew LaChiusa’s direction.
A slow-paced production would leave you wondering instead of watching.
Like: Why is Carmichael collecting those disconnected hands?
Carmichael is dangerous and Mervyn is sociopathic and the two collide in this hotel.
You listen to Mervyn talking about his earlier life and how he came to be in the hotel in his underwear.
He sounds like a guy auditioning to be a serial killer.
“A Behanding” is the kind of play which leaves you wondering: What rock did these people crawl out from under?
They are out there, often relatively normal-seeming people with relatively normal jobs.
Just Google John List.
Carmichael is different, because he’s actively dangerous and capable of killing someone just because.
Not everyone would like “A Behanding in Spokane,” but it’s worth seeing for the lowlifes McDonagh puts on the stage and because of LaChiusa’s Carmichael.

A.W.

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