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The Thrill of the Chase @ Drilling Company Theater, through March 4

In a brutal attempt to explore masculinity and sexual politics, Thrill of the Chase, by Philip Gawthorne, possesses neither thrill nor chase. This David Mamet inspired play has all the ingredients of a David Mamet play, but doesn’t exactly have the effectiveness that a play by him has. This is coming from someone who is not a fan of David Mamet’s plays. I felt there was something missing, and, at times I felt the dialogue, during certain scenes, felt out of place, or not necessary. In an attempt to break up Nicky’s (Ryan Barrentine) relationship with bride to be Izzy (Nicole Samsel), Charlie (Kevin O’Callaghan) places a wager that if he fails to break up their relationship, he will offer up his penthouse apartment as a gift. Faith (Jenna D’Angelo), the call girl, agrees to take part in this cruel game in a lousy attempt to feel powerful. This attempt at child’s play felt like a weak excuse to ditch other options for exploring loneliness. The idea didn’t sell me. The play could’ve benefited if the characters were a little more developed.

We get that Charlie is lonely, but why does he act like a sadist jerk? This question never gets resolved, as the character states that he doesn’t even know why he acts the way he does. The lack of resolution to this character made me question what the point is in him in committing these unpleasant acts. I would’ve liked to have known that this was due to more than just loneliness and jealousy. Faith’s entrance was a bit awkward, as she recites this pointless dialogue about bagels. The characters behave in ways that are not credible.

With the exception of Kevin O’Callaghan, the performances weren’t particularly strong. Ryan Barrentine’s performance felt unnatural. I can tell he was trying his best to embrace the character but the connection between him and his character, as well as the audience, was missing. Nicole Samsel as the meek Izzy was stiff in her performance and felt as if she was holding back. We get that the character is sweet and shy but it made me wish there was a little more fire in her. Jenna D’Angelo played Faith the best I think she could, given the under developed role she was given. Kevin O’Callaghan was the stand out performer of the night. He embraced every single disgusting quality in his character, and commanded the stage. Whenever he was on stage it was as if no one else was there with him.

The play might have worked better if it went in the direction of a politically incorrect comedy, or if it explored other ways to make cruelty riveting. The script is undermined with pointless digressions, and the two and a half hour long pacing felt endless. In an attempt to make the characters look empowering, this play turned out to be something out of a god awful relationship.

The Thrill of the Chase runs at Drilling Company Theater, through March 4. For more information, please visit http://www.maddogbarks.com/

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