Broken Watch Theatre Company
By HUNT HOLMAN
The Sande Shurin Theatrem June 3 – 26, 2004
Directed by DREW DECORLETO
Costumes JITO LEE
Production Stage Manager SARAH MURPHY
Press Representative SPRINGER ASSOCIATES
Tate – Stephen Brumble, Jr.
Helen – Carey Crim
Kelly – Teresa L. Goding
Bill – Andrew J. Hoff
Mark – Leo Lauer
Leave it to Broken Watch Theatre Company to produce a full-length play about a man who needs a kidney transplant, and the friends and family who succumb to jealous and self-indulgent infighting regarding what should be a serious concern. The play, THE KIDNEY, a not-quite-comedy by Hunt Holman, is a quirky study of human egotism couched in altruism.
As THE KIDNEY begins, we meet the ailing Mark (Leo Lauer) and his girlfriend, Kelly (Teresa L. Goding). It is her birthday, yet the morose and very superficially self-involved Mark summarily announces that due to impending failure, within some years, he will need a kidney transplant. Enter married friends Bill (Andrew J. Hoff) and Helen (Carey Crim), and the transplant talk quickly evolves into a contest without boundaries, with the three healthy participants vying for the winner’s role as most attractive donor. Bill, a simple yet extremely loyal man, makes Mark’s recovery the center of his world. Bill’s vegan, crystallizing, meditating spouse, Helen, at first reluctant, quickly finds her own center of pride in potential donation, and goes way over the top. Kelly, just trying to keep up, throws her own healthy organs into the mix, but we see early on that this just cannot be easy for anyone, including the audience. That becomes all the more apparent when we meet Mark’s brother, Tate (Stephen Brumble, Jr.). A physician himself, Tate wants nothing to do with aiding his brother, but he does want Kelly.
For the most part, Hunt Holman’s play succeeds in the combative arena of engrossing entertainment, even if it is palatable in the most unexpected of ways. This is truest in the first act, where the action unfolds cleanly and clearly. The second act of THE KIDNEY, however, loses focus when it enters a hazy, anesthesia-induced otherworld that never dissipates fully enough to get a grasp back on the "real" world. Another problem is that the scene changes are consistently overly long. This is on odd issue to have with a production that credits no scenic designer, and that features first a couch and then a hospital bed as the "set," so I can only surmise that the lengthy breaks have more to do with costume changes than heavy lifting. My final gripe is with the character of Tate. Who is this guy? Does he hate his brother? He seems to, but why? One could say that performer Brumble just could not get a handle on the role, but I am not so sure that issue is the crux of the matter, as the dialogue implicitly indicates that Tate is ripe with wanton, inexplicable vacillation. Then, in the end, everyone does change in this play, except for Mark. Whether these are positive changes or not, I leave for you to decide.
So, regarding Hunt Holman’s THE KIDNEY, I am sure the one question you want answered is whether or not you should see it. I have to say, overall, why not? It is funny enough. It is cost effective enough ($19). The actors work hard. The flaws are not fatal. So, go, enjoy, and fill out those donor cards!
- Kessa De Santis -