SCP offer more performance opportunities

SFBA member Seneca Community Players’ opening weekend brought many accolades by audience and reviewers alike. Tickets are still available for next weekends performances at the Delavan Theater at the New York Chiropractic College. Friday, Saturday 8 pm, Sunday 2 pm. Below is the review from opening night.Play makes you laugh and think – By Rich Reiben rhreibenFLT@ gmail.comWho knew that planning an assassination could be such fun?Playwright George F. Walker’s dark comedy “Dead Metaphor” tackles war, dementia, crooked politicians, sexual mores and a dozen other controversial subjects in a well-executed production by the Seneca Community Players. It is an important play, to be sure, even if sometimes imperfect; the plot seems pretty improbable and the character development (or shall I say dissolution) is at times a little problematic. But there is plenty of raunchy humor (with the emphasis on raunchy, so be prepared), and even a kernel or two of truth, which are more than enough to make your experience worthwhile.Dean Trask is a veteran of the Afghanistan war with one viable skill, which is the kill. As a sniper he is supremely unqualified for a civilian job, very broke and living with his parents and his pregnant, street-smart ex-wife Jennie, who is about to remarry him but is desperate for security.Oliver Denny, a soft-spoken government job counselor, takes pity on Dean, getting him a job as assistant to his wife Helen, a megalomaniacal right-wing politician running for high office who can use a “war hero” as a favorable prop. Dean’s father Hank, a liberal who cannot stand Helen’s rants, is in an early (and hilarious) stage of dementia. Hank’s wife Frannie is a suffering wife near the end of her rope, who knows that putting her husband in a nursing home will leave her, too, bankrupt.The six sad characters soon enter into a collective tailspin, each fueled by his or her own form of desperation. It is the playwright’s genius, not to mention the skilled direction of Becky Bly, that keeps the audience laughing through most of the evening.The ensemble clicks nicely. Michael Jansen portrays Dean as earnest and manipulable, but uncomfortable and bewildered by civilian life and its misadventures. By contrast, Amy Babiarz’s Jennie is controlling and tough, the product of alienated blue-collar parents who will stop at nothing to provide for her unborn child and family. Both do a nice job of exploring their difficult relationship.Steve Mitchell as Hank Trask is a believable dementia victim, becoming at once increasingly funny, disinhibited and poignant as his condition worsens. Susan Stewart Sinicropi gives perhaps the most genuine and touching portrayal of the evening as Hank’s loving but beleaguered caregiver-wife.Deborah Bly is deliciously despicable as the amoral Helen Denny, with appropriate disdain for both her staff and her constituency, while saving some choice barbs for her husband Oliver, whom she deems a “communist” because of his government employment. Lorne Fancett is just right in the latter role, a nerdy, amiable clerk whose growing dislike of Helen, as her extremist rhetoric hardens, gradually transforms him.The pacing is crisp throughout, as the play proceeds through a series of mostly short vignettes and blackouts. Sets are simple and effective, with most scenes taking place in Hank and Frannie’s back yard, Oliver’s office and a restaurant frequented by Helen. The playwright effectively uses the conceit of one-way cell phone conversations to create offstage characters who are important to the plot and have personalities of their own, including Jennie’s mother and Helen’s chief of staff.George F. Walker is a humorist with a message, and he eventually makes it abundantly clear: We send our sons and daughters off to a war that exists to 99 percent of us only in the media. Our collective denial is such that we may call them heroes and thank them for their service, but we do little to give them the skills to help them assimilate back into civilian society.And so, while you’ll laugh all night, you might also squirm a little from time to time. I highly recommend the experience.

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