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Review: THE GARBOLOGISTS at Dezart Performs

The West Coast premiere is now on stage at Dezart through April 23.

By: Apr. 16, 2023
Review: THE GARBOLOGISTS at Dezart Performs  Image
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Anthropologists and archaeologists are, as the play The Garbologists tells us, history's trash collectors, rummaging through unwanted and broken things hundreds and thousands of years old; piecing together ancient daily lives from those remnants. Lindsay Joelle's 2022 play is about two New York sanitation workers and all the unwanted and broken things around them and their attempt to piece together the remnants.

Here's the story: It is Marlowe's (Nathalie Bennett) first day as a sanitation worker. She is highly educated, from a middle-upper class family, and her partner, Danny (Jacob Alden Roa), is trying to figure out what a girl like this is doing collecting garbage. He asks questions, jokes around, and tries to teach her the tricks of the trade, but she wants none of it. She just wants to do her job without interference from him. Clearly, we have a bit of a mystery going on here. I mean, what is her deal?

Review: THE GARBOLOGISTS at Dezart Performs  ImageYou can get to know a lot about someone by working side by side all day long, and Danny reveals his life to Marlowe. He's a divorced dad who has made some mistakes. He also admits it and is trying to be a better person for his son. Still, Marlowe reveals nothing except her ragged edges.

I have to say that Roa is an incredibly compelling actor. This is my first time seeing him, and he had me at hello. He has this teddy-bear warmth with a sweet goofiness to him that is reminiscent of Chris Pratt. It doesn't hurt that he looks like him too. He is a regular Joe who loves his kid, was probably a bad husband but regrets it and is on a learning path. He wants to be a good guy and we are absolutely rooting for him.

Bennett's character is a mystery, and she wants to keep it that way. She has a surprisingReview: THE GARBOLOGISTS at Dezart Performs  Image hidden agenda, and that makes sense because why would a woman with a face and body like Nicole Scherzinger want to work as a garbage collector? It's not like you're gonna get rich. So of course there's a reason, it's a pivotal part of the play so I'm not gonna spoil it. There is a great tension-breaking moment about fifteen minutes into act one when Bennett's tough-skinned Marlowe has a task to accomplish, and her determination to accomplish said task shows her feel for physical comedy.

Is there a happy ending for these two "tortured" souls who are culturally polar opposites? Will they manage to sort out their own trash and move forward? It's a comedy, so of course there is. But it does not go where you might think it's going, and that is very satisfying.

TReview: THE GARBOLOGISTS at Dezart Performs  Imageechnicals were top-notch as always, with Jimmy Cuomo's whimsical version of a life-sized Playskool Mack garbage truck including the back maw making good use of the stage, and Phil Murphy's lighting design framing it well. A special nod to costume designer Frank Cazares' stage hands dressed as sanitation workers, gave me a giggle. Finally, Clark Duggar's sound design echoed the blue collar mood of the play and kept us soft rocking and head bopping during resets.

This was Michael Shaw's final offering of the season, which he also directed, and Shaw has proven time and again that he knows how to elevate the comedy in a script. The Garbologists is no exception. Run time is about 90 minutes with no intermission but you'll never look at your watch.

Producers: Michael Shaw, Clark Duggar

Director: Michael Shaw


Nathalie Bennett: Marlowe

Jacob Alden Roa: Danny


Sound Design: Clark Dugger

Set Design: Jimmy Cuomo

Lighting Design: Phil Murphy

Costume Design: Frank Cazares


Stage Manager: Paul Tenaglia

Assistant Costumer: James Lapidus

Props Master: Greg Thorneycroft

Photography: David A. Lee


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