Helios Productions Ltd.

and

50-Foot Monkey Productions

present

RIGHT AS RON

By JUDD BLOCH

 

Bank Street Theater, January 29 February 15, 2004

 

Directed by MAX WILLIAMS

Production Stage Manager MICHELLE LUCHESE

Sets EVAN GABRIELE

Costumes JENNA ROSSI-CAMUS

Lighting IAN GRUNES

Sound JEREMY FRINDEL

Press KAREN GRECO ENTERTAINMENT

 

Cast

(in order of appearance)

April Erica Rhodes

Kyle Tony Larkin

Peter Starr Thomas Guiry

Mary Susan-Kate Heaney

Pong Yvonne Lin

Jason Jas Robertson

Steve/Jeremiah/Lt. Sommes Mark Auerbach

Jack Mike Mosley

Jimmy Donnie Tuel

Cassie Starr Kathryn Ekblad

Lindell Carolyn Ladd

Bob Starr John Dohrmann

Holly Naomi Warner

Walter Ben Lizza

Ron John McAdams

Do you remember Elizabeth Smart and how surprised the country was when she was discovered alive, relatively well, and living with a couple best described as religious fanatics? Do you remember the media scramble to interview the reunited Smart family? Do you remember the many questions asked about the Smarts themselves, and the presumed lack of intelligence these millionaires exhibited by allowing the less fortunate to do odd jobs around their home? Playwright Judd Bloch remembers, and he has borrowed the elements of that real life drama, including an eerily similar police sketch of the suspect, shaken them around, added some seedy sexual and drug-related subtext, and penned an attempted comedy called RIGHT AS RON.

While the intentions are clearly to be ironic and provide social commentary funneled through the lens of a universally recognizable current event, the results fall far short of the lofty goals. The script has flaws, and often seems to delight in ridiculing the source material, specifically the family, but that is not where the crux of RIGHT AS RONs troubles lay. The major issues had to do with the actual production, and the seeming lack of professionalism and artistic quality. From my seat, I could hear talking from the control booth, noises from offstage, and was generally distracted from the play by backstage clamor. These things, paired with some unsmooth scene changes, some unwise casting choices, and too many extraneous moments rendered the experience less than moving, if, on the whole, well-intentioned.

It was like one of those faltering "Saturday Night Live" skits from the mid-Eighties that had the kernel of an inspired idea, but that went on way, way, way too long. For, not even by the end, but a very short way through, it is clear that RIGHT AS RON has no structure save the source material beneath its shaky feet. We meet a large family. We meet a deflowered girl speaking in tongues and borrowed song lyrics. We meet a ragtag rich family with religious (here, equated with clueless) parents, angry children who lie, get high, and even resort to torture to escape reality, and the unlikely people that they encounter. The introduction of a cult abduction seems to make them feel glamorous. Unfortunately, it does not make the play good or particularly funny.

So, no, do not run out to attend RIGHT AS RON, even if you just cannot get enough of Elizabeth Smart and the encircling circus. As for the folks involved in the production, I suggest playwright Judd Bloch keeps on writing, keeps on workshopping, and keeps on looking for the artists who can realize his visions as intended. Actors, play people, not stereotypes. Folks behind the scenes, "SHHHHH!"

- Kessa De Santis -

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