Regional Reviews: Cleveland & Akron
D.C. Fidler, a psychiatrist, wrote this script about a psychiatrist and what may be his last patient. The gut-wrenching story deals with American themes and issues.
In the cluttered office of Lieutenant Colonel Lawrence Caplan (David Peacock), he receives a telephone call asking him to interview one more patient, Specialist Jason Wynsky (Travis Teffner). Caplan is packing his office to move out; he's retiring and, yet, this one last Marine needs his help.
The playwright wrote tough assignments for the two-actor cast, who hold attention throughout the 100-minute performance, without intermission. The minutes fly in this most interesting production. Peacock never leaves the stage, but he does have a glass of water on his desk and occasionally sips water to keep going.
Lt. Col. Caplan has multiple sets of problems. He still suffers from being in the war in Vietnam, his son was recently killed in battle, and he has marital problems with a wife who is also a psychiatrist and is, by his description, difficult. Retirement is not the goal he has in mind. In truth, he has no real goal in mind. Caplan roams about his office, touching books and souvenirs of his life, on the bookcases and desk.
In the first half of the production, Spc. Wynsky is agitated as he studies Caplan's office. Can he find a book or an item that might help him find peace? As the story progresses, Wynsky becomes calm as he establishes a relationship with Caplan. As Wynsky, Teffner leaves the stage at the end of each scene to change costumes. A young soldier, Wynsky struggles with what happened to him in Afghanistan. He tells about being in battle with only three other soldiers and being chased down alleyways, trying to protect himself and save his comrades. One of those soldiers was his best friend, Josh.
As the story unfolds, the audience understands the two men are friendless. At one point Wynsky notes to Caplan that they have become friends. Caplan barely looks up to acknowledge the offer of friendship.
Fidler is a talented writer. Some of the lines in this play are poetic and deserve to be read aloud again and again. In sharp contrast, Wynsky declares: "Words are my enemy." In a verbal duel with Caplan, Wynsky strikes, "Brains can't handle truth." A powerful exchange between Caplan and Wynsky reveals how vulnerable each man is. Caplan asks: "Do you believe in God?" Wynsky abruptly responds: "I hate him. God took Josh from me! So, I hate him."
This is a strong production for several reasons. Fidler wrote a tough script in an almost poetic style. He created a contemporary story as current as tomorrow's newspaper. He was honest in his writing stylehe didn't avoid words or scenes that might make some audience members cringe.
Sean Derry expresses his director's strength by never flinching from the power in Fidler's script. Derry honors the vocal and physical demands of the script.
Peacock and Teffner are two terrific actors. Peacock is a mature man who has worked at none too fragile in A Skull in Connemara. He brings extensive experience to this role. This story strikes close to home for him; when he isn't acting, he works as a drama therapist with veterans suffering from PTSD. Teffner is young, but, he trained at the Stella Adler Studio of Acting in New York and has played Romeo in Romeo and Juliet. He is a special actor and I promise you'll remember his performance for a long time.
I heard audience members crying at the end of the play. I was seated on the front row, close enough to see tears run down Teffner's face and to see Peacock gasp for air at some of the most intense scenes. The power of Fidler's dialogue and the unbearably strong physical actions are mesmerizing as these two men reveal what the wars did to them and the battles they now fight on the home front.
When you see this production, pay special attention and note the source of the title Boogieban.
The none too fragile theatre will tour in the summer with this production. In August, Boogieban will be performed in Chicago; in September, it will move to New York City. I urge those of you in Chicago and New York City to reserve your tickets and see this powerful production.
Boogieban, through December 8, 2018, at none too fragile theatre in Bricco's Pub, 1835 Merriman Road, Akron OH. For ticket information, telephone: 330-962-5547 or visit www.nonetoofragile.com.