'Runt of the Litter' at Seattle's ACT
Former Houston Oiler, Bo Eason's, one man show "Runt of the Litter" opened at Seattle's ACT and clearly stretches the boundaries of what a gripping sports drama needs to be. This semi-autobiographical show, written and performed by Eason, may start out looking like your typical sports tale of overcoming obstacles and achieving your dreams but takes it's audience to places we never expected to go.
The play revolves around football player Jack Henry (Eason) as he prepares for the "biggest game of his life". While getting ready he tells us all about growing up as the youngest of six kids, having two very supportive yet driven parents, an older brother who had all the right moves for the game, and being a kid who was always being told he was too small to play football. But none of this matters to Henry who develops a 20 year plan as a child (in crayon no less) that has him training every day and ends up with him playing in the Super Bowl and achieving all the fame, glory and parental pride that comes with it. And all of these points are ones that very closely resemble the facts of Eason's real life. The play lets us into the mind set of a world that most of us only get to see in movies like "North Dallas Forty" or "Brian's Song". But this play ends with no fanfare or touchdown dance (although Eason does do some interesting dancing at one point in the play). I don't want to give too much away but be ready for a powerhouse tackle of a moment at the end.
Eason's performance through out the evening is engaging and stirring. He manages to maneuver from high energy recounts of football plays to hilarious locker room anecdotes to quiet, hard hitting details of his rivalry with his superstar brother all with grace and ease. He shows incredible strength and vulnerability all at the same time which really makes the audience care for the character (even if we don't always root for him). The play moves along briskly through it's hour and a half running time without intermission and never really felt long winded or dragging. There were a few moments where Eason's character is doing some prep work for the game where there is no dialogue which at times felt a little forced but they move past them quickly and onto the next scene.
Eason's talent as a performer and writer really shine in the piece and it's no wonder the story has caught the eye of some Hollywood insiders. Reportedly, Frank Darabont (director of "The Shawshank Redemption" and "The Green Mile") is in the works to produce this for the big screen. No word yet on if he will direct or if Eason will play himself. But at 48 years of age, Eason still shows that he can handle the role, both physically and as a gifted actor.
"Runt of the Litter" plays at Seattle's ACT through October 11th. For tickets or information contact the ACT box office at 206-292-7676 or visit them online at www.acttheatre.org.