What starts off as a seeming battle of wills and words between two writers soon devolves and reveals itself to be more of a geo-political statement in John Patrick Shanley's "A Dirty Story" which opens the Intiman's Summer Theatre Festival. At times a bit clunky and forced the show ultimately amounts to a crazy ride with some outstanding performances that will give you plenty to discuss afterward.
At first look Shanley's play seems a statement on writing and melodrama as established author Brutus (Shawn Law) agrees to a meeting with fledgling writer Wanda (Carol Roscoe) to discuss her manuscript. But Shanley can't just leave it there as he wraps up a series of sharp left turns in the story in his signature meaty dialog that eventually shines a glaring spotlight on the state of our world. I really don't want to give too much away as it's more fun to watch it unfold but I will say that his convention of framing the acts as fiction and non-fiction and keeping them tonally serious and farcical respectively only made the statement resonate more.
OK, that's all I'm going to say about the story but I will talk about those performances. Roscoe gives a solid and diverse performance with an incredible arc for her character as she bounces from innocent to seductress to badass with ease. Quinn Franzen is wonderful as the stalwart Texan, Frank and while I would have liked a little more variation to his performance he manages to convey the duplicitous nature of his character well. Allen Fitzpatrick turns in some hilarious comic relief as the British Watson as well as the engrossed chess player Lawrence and shows off his always-likable characterizations. But the force to be reckoned with in the show has to be Law. Not only does he keep his manic character as grounded and focused as he can be but still manages to take that same character and have him inhabit the ever changing landscape of tone that the play demands. And he manages to change that tone without ever letting the audience know it happened especially in a rather disturbing and dangerous moment in Act One. But then it helps that he's one of those actors with enough stage presence for 10. You just want to watch him.
Director Valerie Curtis-Newton has done an amazing job at keeping the characterizations from going too far overboard and keeping the twists and turns a surprise. All in all an admirable start to Intiman's attempt to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. Here's hoping the rest of the festival shines as well and we are able to keep this local theater (and I stress "local") in tact.
"A Dirty Story" from the Intiman performs through August 25th. For tickets or information visit them online at www.intiman.org.
Photo credit: Chris Bennion
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Born and raised in Seattle, WA, Jay has been a theater geek for years. He attends as many shows as he can around the country and loves taking in new exciting works. Jay is also an actor in the local Seattle scene.|
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