BWW Review: Who Was DB Cooper? We'll Probably Never Know, but at CoHo's db, You'll Have a Great Time Speculating
In 1971, a man (who the FBI describe as "nondescript") going by the name Dan Cooper hijacked a plane from Portland to Seattle, negotiated $200K and some parachutes in exchange for the passengers, and then jumped out of the plane as it headed back south. He was never found. He could still be alive. He could be your next door neighbor.
Where did he go? Why did he do it?
Unfortunately, we'll probably never know, because the FBI has stopped investigating the case. But that makes Tommy Smith's db, now playing at CoHo Theatre all the more fun.
The play proposes three possible DB's -- a bipolar hoarder who might have been having a manic episode, a war veteran who needed the money for gender reassignment surgery, and an out-of-work man up to his ears in debt who sees no way other way out. It's a fast-paced roller coaster ride, each scene lasting only a few minutes and rapidly switching between speculation about the actual event and speculation about the events that came before and after.
My first exposure to the play was at the JAW festival a couple of years ago. For that reading, they had 10 or 12 actors playing the 28 roles. It was intense. For this production, CoHo has cut it down to just five actors, but still 28 characters, which means they're all working insanely hard.
Speaking of the insanely hard-working cast, I'd like to officially propose we change the name of this play (at least for this production) from db to dg -- for Dana Green, who plays seven roles. She owns this show. From Jo (the first DB's girlfriend) to the second DB (aka Barb), to a slightly loopy hypnotist, she's legit.
The other outstanding performance was by Duffy Epstein, who played two DB's and a handful of other characters.
Aside from DG, my favorite aspect of this production was Peter Ksander's set. As soon as you walk into the theatre, you're transported back to the '70s. So much brown! It reminded me of our family room when I was a kid. I loved it (and I'm also happy that today's color palettes are more, well, colorful).
Overall, db is a fun, action-packed, and also thoughtful play about what motivates us to do what we do. It's also a darn intriguing mystery.
Photo Credit: Owen Carey