Once upon a summer of ’83, a young aspiring actor named Woody Harrelson became close pals with a Harlem-raised fellow named Frankie Hyman while they both worked a construction job in Houston. Eventually, they went their separate ways; one becoming famous for doing something other than playwriting and the other pursuing a career in writing, although these many years later he apparently hasn’t written anything he would care to mention in a Playbill bio.
But when reunited, they decided to put their experiences into play; a comedy with characters based on themselves and all the colorful people they encountered that summer on the job. As Harrelson has mentioned to the media on more than one occasion, they had characters and they had their dynamics and relationships, but they just didn’t have a plot.
After last night’s opening, I’d advise them to keep looking for one.
Oh sure, there’s a first act curtain line in Bullet For Adolf that hints that the two-and-a-half-hour muddy mess of an evening is going to indulge in a narrative, but clearly it must take a back seat to the numerous gags and detours into subjects like the cause of pedophilia, the consumption of human placenta, white guys acting like black guys, gay guys acting like straight guys and even a quick dig at Judy Garland. (“Unless that chick is skipping down a yellow brick road, I don’t want to hear from her.”)
Fortunately for our two aspiring scribes, there was a theatre production company named Children At Play, owned by a fellow named Woody Harrelson, which seemed happy to give their shoddy work in progress a go at a prime Off-Broadway house, and give the show a big publicity boost by hiring a well-known celebrity to direct; a guy named Woody Harrelson.
Filling in for Woody Harrelson, at least on stage, is Brandon Coffey as the easy-going slacker, Zach, who invites the new guy at his construction gig, Frankie (Tyler Jacob Rollinson), to share his apartment along with his current roommate, Clint (David Coomber), a handsome lad with well-defined muscle tone and the vocal and physical mannerisms of 1983 sitcom heterosexual Jm J. Bullock. When Clint is eventually seen making out with Zach’s ex-girlfriend, Batina (Shannon Garland), it’s suggested that he may be doing it to experience a sexual connection with his roomie.
Lee Orsorio plays a white guy nicknamed Dago-Czech (a tribute to his lineage) who prefers acting like a stereotypical black guy from the streets. Dago-Czech is so hung up on his appearance that he even wears a suit while digging a ditch. Eventually joining the mix are “angry black woman “ Jackie (Shamika Cotton) and “crazy black chick” Shareeta (Marsha Stephanie Blake).
Somehow, this crew consists of the entire guest list for Batina’s 18th birthday party, hosted by her Nazi-sympathizing German father (The fine stage actor Nick Wyman keeps the character from being a total cartoon.) whose pride and joy is a Lugar pistol said to be used in an assassination attempt against Hitler. And yes, the gun is fired before the final blackout.
Bullet For Adolf certainly tries hard to be edgy and offensive, in a hip, casual way, but there are only so many times you can listen to tepid vulgarities such as, “Does your ass ever get jealous of all the shit that comes out of your mouth?”
Though the play has no strong connection to nostalgia for the early 80s, Imaginary Media provides clever and entertaining video montages of news events and pop culture of the day between the numerous scenes. Particularly enjoyable was the one clip showing a pretty and prim young woman in a Boston watering hole asking a loveable elderly bartender if they can use a new waitress.
Photos by Carol Rosegg: Top: David Coomber and Nick Wyman; Bottom: Tyler Jacob Rollinson and Lee Osorio.
Posted on August 10, 2012 - by
About the Author: After 20-odd years singing, dancing and acting in dinner theatres, summer stocks and the ever-popular audience participation murder mysteries (try improvising with audiences after they?ve had two hours of open bar), Michael Dale segued his theatrical ambitions into playwriting. The buildings which once housed the 5 Off-Off Broadway plays he penned have all been destroyed or turned into a Starbucks, but his name remains the answer to the trivia question, "Who wrote the official play of Babe Ruth's 100th Birthday?" He served as Artistic Director for The Play's The Thing Theatre Company, helping to bring free live theatre to underserved communities, and dabbled a bit in stage managing and in directing cabaret shows before answering the call (it was an email, actually) to become BroadwayWorld.com's first Chief Theatre Critic. While not attending shows Michael can be seen at Citi Field pleading for the Mets to stop imploding. Likes: Strong book musicals and ambitious new works. Dislikes: Unprepared celebrities making their stage acting debuts by starring on Broadway and weak bullpens.